The New York Times
Chavez: Venezuela to Buy More Tanks Over US Threat
Aug 06--President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday his government will buy dozens of Russian tanks because Venezuela feels threatened by a pending deal for the U.S. military to increase its presence in neighboring Colombia.
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Chavez announced the plan while condemning Colombia's negotiations on an agreement to let U.S. forces use at least seven of its military bases.
''We're going to buy several battalions of Russian tanks,'' Chavez said at a news conference, saying the deal is among accords he hopes to conclude during a visit to Russia in September.
Chavez's government has already bought more than $4 billion worth of Russian arms since 2005, including helicopters, fighter jets and Kalashnikov assault rifles.
The socialist leader called Colombia's plan to host more U.S. soldiers a ''hostile act'' and a ''true threat'' to Venezuela and its leftist allies. He warned that a possible U.S. buildup could lead to the ''start of a war in South America,'' but gave no indication that Venezuela's military is mobilizing in preparation for any conflict.
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