Venezuelan leader arrives in Mali for talks: energy in focus

Chavez gave an early morning interview to Malian radio in which he said the Malian and Venezuelan people have the "same destiny" and are set to embark on a "grand union."

Chavez and Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure plan to sign agreements on energy and diplomatic travel that will increase cooperation between the countries, according to Rebecca Bello Chancez, Venezuela's ambassador to the landlocked West African country.

The Venezuelan president is expected to discuss oil prospects in Mali with Toure. Chavez had said he expected to sign a deal for Venezuela's state oil company to help Mali explore for and produce oil.

Mali has five sedimentary basins that look like likely candidates for oil production, according to the country's minister of energy and mines, Ahmed Diane Semega. The country is already exploring some sedimentary basins with Australia's Baraka Petroleum Ltd.

Chavez is expected to continue on to Benin later Wednesday.