Venezuelan leader in China to promote economic ties
BEIJING, China (AP) -- A day after dismissing coup rumors at home,
an upbeat Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met Friday with China's
premier during a trip meant to boost growing economic ties.
Chavez gave no sign of unease as he laughed and chatted with Premier Zhu
Rongji, who oversees Chinese economic policy, at the Chinese leaders'
residential compound in central Beijing.
Chavez, who is making his second official visit to China in two years,
eager to promote trade with China -- a big potential market for his struggling
economy's oil exports.
Chavez and Chinese President Jiang Zemin signed six agreements Thursday
promoting cooperation in energy, agriculture, gold mining and other fields, the
official Xinhua News Agency reported. It quoted Jiang as saying they planned
to set up a high-level committee to study the development of closer relations.
Venezuela already is the biggest recipient of Chinese investment in Latin
according to Xinhua. It said bilateral trade grew 86 percent last year to $351 million.
Chavez, a former soldier who staged a failed coup in 1992 and was later
president, has promoted ties with China, Cuba and Russia.
Chavez on Thursday dismissed rumors at home of a possible coup. Other Venezuelan
officials have rejected speculation in the media about a coup amid irregular troop
Asked about the reports, Chavez said, "I can't understand what your question
refers to, because in Venezuela there is a process of democratic stability, of
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press