Thursday, Oct. 29
CARACAS, Venezuela – During an official visit to Damascus to strengthen bilateral ties, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro and the Syrian government signed cooperation agreements in the areas of trade, agriculture, energy, communications and finance on Oct. 26.We have made progress with plans for trade and strengthened our common projects, such as the joint investment fund we are creating, including the installation of an olive oil processing plant with Syrian and Venezuelan capital, which will operate in both countries," announced Maduro to La Verdad after signing five cooperation agreements with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al Moallem at the Government Palace in Damascus.
Maduro highlighted that the new agreements include Syrian technical and manufacturing assistance to improve cotton crops in Venezuela and a memorandum of understanding between the state-owned Syrian National Television (TNS) and Venezuela's Televisión del Sur (TeleSUR).
The Caracas-based Latin American TeleSUR network will begin broadcasting in Syria but, observed El Universal, the signal will also reach Iraq, Lebanon and Israel.
Maduro revealed that both countries would seek to increase flight frequencies between Damascus and Caracas "to encourage bilateral trade and build a bridge between the Middle East and South America," quoted Venevisión.
After the bilateral meeting, Al Moallem said, "We will monitor all these projects and look for ways to further improve relations between Venezuela and Syria," reported Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias.
In September 2009, Venezuela President Hugo Chávez and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad signed a total of 15 industry-wide agreements, including a major project to build a refinery that will become operational in 2013 and the creation of a Syria-Venezuela business council.
These latest deals fall in line with Venezuela's Middle East policy in countries such as Libya, Algeria and Iran in the areas of mining, agriculture, energy, oil, technology and basic industries. Iran is Venezuela's main trading partner in the region, especially in the oil and hydrocarbons sector. Both countries have signed 186 agreements in the past four years worth a total of US$4.6 billion.