- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

VENEZUELA

Chavez pursues more Russian arms

MOSCOW — President Hugo Chavez will visit Russia July 25 to 27 and may seek to purchase military and civilian jets, Venezuela’s ambassador to Moscow said yesterday.

The Bush administration has banned sales of U.S. arms to Caracas, and Mr. Chavez said last week that his government wants to buy 24 Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets. “A general agreement on military-technical cooperation has already been signed,” an embassy employee said.

Venezuela, the world’s No. 5 oil exporter, already has purchased Russian attack and transport helicopters.

Mr. Chavez says the United States wants to topple him and has ordered officers to train for a resistance war against U.S. troops. Mr. Chavez said this month that Venezuela has bought 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, and that his visit to Russia might lead to the construction of a Kalashnikov arms factory in Venezuela.

COLOMBIA

South Africa trade, cooperation sought

PRETORIA, South Africa — Colombian Foreign Minister Carolina Barco began a visit to South Africa yesterday aimed at enhancing trade and closer cooperation in defense and other areas.

Mrs. Barco told reporters after meeting her counterpart, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, that a defense agreement was being drafted to fight insurgency and drug-trafficking in the South American country.

“We have three illegal armed groups that have turned to narcotics trafficking. They have the support of less than 1 percent of the population, but they continue to operate because they are very well-financed,” she said.

Despite efforts to fight the drug trade, Colombia remains the world’s top cocaine producer with an estimated 430 to 550 tons per year, much of which is smuggled into the United States.

CANADA

Quarantine ordered for poultry flock

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Canada is investigating a second backyard poultry flock for bird flu, although all birds remain healthy, authorities said Sunday.

“A quarantine has been instituted … because there’s been contact either with live birds or through foot traffic and potential contamination with the original infected farm,” said Dr. Jim Clark, Canadian Food Inspection Agency veterinarian.

The agency said Friday that it had detected the H5 virus in a gosling from a backyard poultry flock after four hatchling geese died in the eastern province of Prince Edward Island.

Weekly notes …

A top U.N. official said yesterday that the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be shut down and that he doubted it would be open a year from now. Mark Malloch Brown, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, told visiting Malaysian reporters that keeping the prison open would be “no good for the American reputation.” … Work began in the Arctic yesterday on building a global bank of crop seeds that scientists hope will prevent the extinction of unique species like those lost to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The underground vault on a remote island about 600 miles from the North Pole will hold about 1.5 billion seeds of 3 million food-plant varieties in a reinforced concrete tunnel drilled 230 feet into a mountain, guarded by two steel doors remotely controlled from Sweden.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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