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A day later, the Russian delegation announced that it intends to share its space technology with Cuba and that both countries are in talks to build a space center on the island nation, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Wire reports quote officials saying that Moscow and Havana want to share remote-sensing satellites, space-based telecommunication systems and Cuba’s Glonass satellite navigation system.

Also this week, Russia deepened links with oil-rich Venezuela, whose president, Hugo Chavez, has referred to President Bush as the devil.

In solidarity with Bolivia, Venezuela also expelled its U.S. ambassador this month and the U.S. reciprocated.

When the Russian delegation visited Venezuela this week, the two countries pledged to deepen cooperative programs involving oil, weapons and technology.

The arrival of two Russian bombers in Venezuela for joint military exercises more than a week ago marked a development not seen since the Cold War. The nuclear-capable bombers departed for Russia on Thursday.

Mr. Chavez plans to visit Moscow on Monday for the second time in two months, and the two countries plan to hold joint naval exercises in the Caribbean later this year.

In July, three Russian oil companies signed exploration deals with Venezuela, one of the world’s largest untapped pieces of oil real estate.

Sergei Chemezov, of Russian state holding company Rostekhnologii, told Russia’s Interfax news agency that Venezuela is also in talks to buy Russian air defense systems and armored tanks.

Oil-rich Venezuela has already bought $4 billion in arms from Russia, including 53 combat and troop transport helicopters.

The Russian delegation also visited Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Wednesday to discuss bilateral energy deals. Besides Russia, Nicaragua is the only country to formally recognize the Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations.

“We’re increasing our presence in Latin America - the countries in the region themselves want this,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Igor Lyakin-Frolov told Bloomberg News in an telephone interview.

Russia isn’t alone.

China has also expanded its presence in the region, with massive energy and infrastructure deals, especially with Venezuela, as has Iran. China’s investments in the region appear to be driven more by commercial interests such as the need to obtain energy and other resources for future generations, analysts said.

In contrast, anti-American rhetoric has tinged reciprocal visits by Mr. Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to each other’s capitals.

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