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    Russia ready to supply tanks to Venezuela - Medvedev

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    Russia is ready to supply Venezuela with tanks and other types of military equipment.

    MOSCOW, September 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is ready to supply Venezuela with tanks and other types of military equipment, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday at a joint news conference with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez.

    "Russia will supply Venezuela with arms on Venezuela's request. We will supply tanks as well," Medvedev said.

    "Military and technical cooperation is an important block of our relations. I will not be insincere, such contracts are seldom signed in public," he said.

    Earlier a Russian defense official told RIA Novosti that a contract worth as much as $500 million for the delivery of up to 100 T-72 and T-90 tanks would be signed during Chavez's visit to Moscow.

    Chavez said his country had no aggressive intentions, but would strengthen its defenses. "We need to increase our defense potential," he said. "A blockade is closing in around us."

    Since 2005, Venezuela has bought Russian armaments, including helicopters, combat aircraft and Kalashnikov assault rifles, worth $4 billion.

    Chavez said during talks with Medvedev in the Kremlin earlier Thursday that his country recognized the independence of the former Georgia republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    "I want to take the opportunity to announce that Venezuela is joining those recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia," he said, adding that Venezuela was starting the relevant procedures.

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