Chavez Says Latin America Needs Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says that Latin America needs a strong friendship with Russia to help reduce U.S. influence and keep peace in the region.

Chavez spoke with Russia’s Vesti 24 television in an interview broadcast Sunday. His nation has hosted a pair of Russian strategic bombers and is preparing to conduct a joint exercise with a Russian Navy squadron. Chavez is to make a trip to Moscow next week, a second visit just over two months.

Chavez said: “Not only Venezuela, but Latin America as a whole, need friends like Russia now as we are shedding this domination.” Chavez added, “We need Russia for economic and social development, for all-round support, for the life of the peoples of our continent, for peace.”