Darya Korsunskaya and Anthony Boadle
Friday, April 2, 2010

CARACAS (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in Caracas on Friday to meet the two main South American foes of the United States and launch a $20 billion venture to tap the vast Orinoco heavy oil belt.

Putin will discuss energy, agriculture and defense issues with Venezuela’s leftist President Hugo Chavez and later hold talks with Bolivian President Evo Morales, both fierce critics of what they call U.S. “imperialism” in Latin America.

Putin and Chavez toured a four-masted Russian tallship, the Kruzenshtern, one of the world’s largest sailing vessels used as a fishery school ship, and viewed photos of Russia’s victory over Germany in the Second World War in the ship’s museum.

Chavez said Moscow and Caracas would strengthen security ties to “continue increasing Venezuela’s defense capability” and also look at cooperating on nuclear energy.

Full story here.