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Monday August 28, 2006

Venezuelan president starts Malaysian visit

KUALA LUMPUR: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez received a red-carpet welcome in Malaysia on Monday ahead of talks expected to focus on politics in the Middle East and cooperation in the oil and gas sector. 

Chavez, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur for a four-day visit late Sunday after a weeklong trip to China, inspected a military honour guard at Malaysia's Parliament house, received a 21-gun salute and was introduced to the country's constitutional monarch, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Jamalullail, and various Cabinet ministers. 

He was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi later Monday for talks on international issues of common concern, particularly the current situation in the Middle East, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry has said. No further details were immediately available. 

Abdullah (left) show Chavez, the new government projects upon arrival at the prime minister office in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Monday. - APpic
Malaysia, which chairs the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, has strongly criticised Israel's attacks in Lebanon and its policies toward the Palestinians.  

Chavez on Friday condemned the Israeli attacks in Lebanon, comparing them to the acts of Adolf Hitler. 

Venezuela plans to explore closer cooperation with Malaysia in oil and gas industries, as well in palm oil, the ministry said.  

Malaysia, a major palm oil producer, will host Chavez on a tour of an oil palm plantation and a refinery. 

Chavez is slated to address a business forum, and both countries will sign a pact on avoidance of double taxation. 

Bilateral trade between both nations totaled US$39 million last year, nearly double the US$19.8 million in 2004. - AP 

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