Monday, October 18, 2010

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met on Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych, during a visit to Ukraine focussed on aerospace cooperation. Chavez was scheduled later in the day to tour the Antonov aircraft assembly plant in the capital Kiev, the Interfax news agency reported. 'This visit for us is not simple protocol, we are not just passing through here,' Chavez said. 'This is an extremely important visit for us.' Cold-shouldered by most developed nations for his outspoken criticism of the United States, Chavez has said his two-week international trip is devoted to increasing trade between Venezuela and European and Middle Eastern nations. It is his first visit to Ukraine.
Kiev is keen to find buyers for the Antonov Company, a state-owned producer of cargo and passenger aircraft with customers primarily in the former Soviet Union and Africa. Over the weekend, Chavez met with Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko and signed an agreement on oil. The deal will see Venezuelan crude transported to the landlocked former Soviet republic via a pipeline running across Ukraine from the Black Sea. The pipeline would give Belarus for the first time an alternative to importing oil from Russia. Chavez was in Russia last week for talks with the Kremlin on possible arms deliveries to Venezuela and possible construction of a nuclear power plant in Venezuela by Russian engineers. The Venezuelan leader is scheduled to travel onwards from Ukraine to Iran, Syria and Portugal.