Venezuela, Cuba to form joint ventures on energy, telecom
Caracas, Dec 15 (IANS) Venezuela and Cuba have reached an agreement for joint ventures in oil and telecommunications, opening the way for some 173 bilateral projects worth more than $2 billion, EFE reported Monday.
The agreements were signed Saturday by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, on his first official visit to Venezuela, at the closing of the 9th Joint Commission meeting in the Venezuelan capital.
Caracas and Havana signed a memorandum of understanding for the formation of a 'joint venture for the oil and liquefied natural gas refining system in Cuba,' that will expand the island's Cienfuegos and Hermanos Diaz refineries.
The two leaders also signed an agreement for the 'creation of the joint socialist company Guardian del Alba,' which will be based in Venezuela and 'regulate cooperation in the area of producing integrated technology solutions' for telecommunications and information technology.
The two presidents also reviewed the planned 'cooperation programme' for 2009 which calls for the continuation 'of 137 development projects and 36 new ones' worth $2 billion.
Venezuela and Cuba have carried out 76 joint projects worth $1.35 billion in 2008, according to figures released by the commission, which began its session Friday.
During the ceremony Saturday, Chavez decorated Castro with the Order of the Liberator and presented him with a replica of South American independence leader Simon Bolivar's sword.
The Cuban government had announced earlier that Castro planned to attend the Latin American and Caribbean summit on integration and development this week in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, and would start on an official visit to that country Thursday.
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