Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Chavez to Medvedev: 'You are my friend, my dear friend'

The presidents of Russia and Venezuela, Dmitry Medvedev and Hugo Chavez, completed four-hour talks and headed for a dinner with the presidents of the ALBA group, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas.

Medvedev arrived in Chavez’s presidential palace in Caracas right after he landed in Venezuela. The two presidents held talks there and gave a lengthy press conference afterwards, Itar-Tass reports.

Chavez awarded Medvedev with Venezuela’s highest award – the Liberator Order. Chavez pinned a golden star to Medvedev’s jacket and put the second part of the Order on Medvedev’s neck – the golden necklace and the ribbon adorned with the colors of the Venezuelan tricolor.

“When I see the ribbon that crosses your chest, I recollect a romantic legend about Miranda creating our tricolor. They say that it was Russian Empress Ekaterina the Great who inspired him for the creation. The yellow color symbolizes her hair color, the blue stands for her eyes, whereas the red color symbolizes her lips,” Chavez said during the award ceremony.

Chavez and Medvedev communicated with each other like two old friends. The two presidents appeared at the press conference wearing dark suits and red ties. They delivered their speeches against the background of Venezuela’s national hero, Simon Bolivar. The two presidents signed eight documents as a result of the talks. Russia and Venezuela particularly signed an agreement on cooperation in the oil industry – between Gazprom and Petroleos de Venezuela.

Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Caracas from Brazil. It became the first visit of a Russian leader to Venezuela during 150 years of Russian-Venezuelan ties.

Medvedev and Chavez also boarded nuclear cruiser The Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great). The cruiser of the Russian Northern Fleet takes part in the joint military exercise in the Caribbean Sea.

Chavez has made seven official visits to Russia. In 2008, he visited Moscow twice – in July and September.

The Russian president said Moscow and Caracas could switch to national currencies in bilateral payments.

"We have discussed with President Chavez the use of the national currencies, the ruble and the bolivar, in bilateral payments," Medvedev said at a news conference in Caracas, RIA Novosti reports.

The two leaders also considered establishing reserves in the two currencies as bilateral trade between Russia and Venezuela reached $772 million in the first eight months of 2008. Medvedev also said that the two countries intended to boost contacts in the defense sector, in line with international law. However, the two leaders did not discuss the delivery of Russian submarines to Venezuela, Chavez said.

"We did not discuss submarines. We discussed surface vessels," Chavez told reporters after talks with Medvedev.

Dmitry Medvedev will finish his Latin American tour with a visit to Cuba.

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