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Chinese VP in Caracas to sign deals

Venezuela has hailed the visit of Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong as a productive trip that will yield several multi-billion trade deals, mainly in the oil and gas sectors.

"This is not a symbolic visit," Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said on Friday after welcoming his Chinese counterpart, who arrived in Caracas for a three-day visit.

About 20 accords will be signed, including such areas as agriculture and high technology, Rangel said, adding that most deals will involve gas and oil.

The accords will be signed on Saturday after a meeting between the Chinese vice president and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has officially visited China three times since 1999.

'Dealing with friends' Chavez, who last visited China in December, said Chinese investments under the accords were worth "several billion dollars because we are dealing with friends".

Chavez says his country and China are compatible for investment Chavez and Zeng will also participate in a meeting of business leaders discussing possible Chinese investment in the Venezuelan oil and gas industry as well as the purchase of Chinese farm equipment.

"Venezuela is an energy country and China consumes a lot of energy so we are naturally compatible," Rangel said.

China's ambassador to Venezuela, Ju Yijie, said there had been discussions about the two countries collaborating on a satellite project.

Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporter and the only Latin American member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

In order to further develop exports to China without impacting its traditional trading partners such as the United States, Venezuela plans to increase production over the next five years to five million barrels per day from the current level of 2.9 bpd.

Editorial Notes: Published Saturday 29 January 2005, 11:30 Makka Time, 8:30 GMT

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