Spain looks for closer ties with Latin America

President Rodriguez Zapatero attended to a regional summit in Venezuela

Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero sealed on Tuesday a number of cooperation agreements with his counterparts from Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil, at a regional summit in the Venezuelan city of Ciudad Guayana. During the meeting, leaders from the four nations discussed social issues, the fight against poverty, regional security and global geopolitics, according to Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Ali Rodriguez.

According to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, the summit was of great importance to its “multilateral world” policy aimed to reinstate global equilibrium. The four leaders signed a joint declaration after the consultation meeting.

Separately, oil giants Repsol-YPF (Spain) and PDVSA (Venezuela) concluded an ambitious deal aimed to create a mixed company, which is expected to increase Repsol-YPF's production in 60 percent. Venezuela is world's fifth oil exporter and US main crude supplier.

Spain is also ready to sell transport planes and military patrol to Venezuela as part of a comprehensive military cooperation agreement. The deal is part of a plan to modernize the Venezuelan Armed Forces, which includes the purchase of 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 50 helicopters to Russia.

Rodriguez Zapatero's visit to Venezuela came in a tough moment for the relations between the South American country and the United States. In a round trip that took him to Argentina, Brazil and Guatemala last week, US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, expressed his concern over the sale of Russian weapons to Venezuela.

“Why would Venezuela's 32,000-strong Army need 100,000 new rifles?”, asked Rumsfeld. "I just can't imagine what's going to happen to [them]," he said, suggesting that those weapons could fall in the hands of Colombian rebels.

While the four presidents were discussing these and other issues in Venezuela, US President George W. Bush made a non-announced 20-minute phone call to his Argentine counterpart, Nestor Kirchner. During the talk, Bush raised his concerns over the “situation in Venezuela and Bolivia”, according to Argentine officials.

The US State Department says Venezuela is financing insurrectional groups in South America, particularly in Bolivia, where massive protests led to an institutional crisis this month. Despite allegations, to date no conclusive financial link has been established between Chavez and opposition groups in other countries.

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Author`s name Olga Savka