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Chávez: We're buying Russian tanks

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced Wednesday that his country would seek to purchase "several battalions" of Russian tanks in apparent response to a pending US-Colombia deal that would give the US military broader access to bases Colombia, which Mr. Chávez called part of a US "policy of aggression."

Agence France-Presse reports that Chávez hopes to finalize the arms sale and several other trade pacts with Russia on mining, oil, and agriculture in September, when he is set to visit Moscow.

The Agence France-Presse adds that Chávez called the US-Colombia military base plan a "threat" to Venezuela, and criticized US President Barack Obama, saying "The [US] policy of aggression against Latin America is the same... It's as if no change had occurred from (former president George W.) Bush to Obama. It's all the same."

The Christian Science Monitor reported last week that the US-Colombia deal would allow the US to run surveillance from three different air bases in the central Andes for both counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations. It would not raise the number of US troops and contractors in Colombia beyond the current 1,400 cap. The US currently has a semi-permanent military presence at five Colombian facilities.

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