Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Qaddafi, Chavez Seek to Form 'NATO for the South'

"Moammar Qaddafi and Hugo Chavez are strengthening their relationship and finding common ground as two radical former military men who both want to challenge the "imperialism" of wealthy nations and aspire to speak for many poor nations.

The Libyan leader planned to meet with the Venezuelan president on Monday and was expected to sign a series of accords to deepen cooperation between their governments.

Chavez and Qaddafi led a weekend summit where South American and African leaders pledged to deepen links between the continents. Chavez made diplomatic inroads while offering African countries Venezuela's help in oil projects, mining and financial assistance.

Qaddafi, who is making his first visit to Latin America, said the two regions should unite to wield more influence and form a defense alliance, a "NATO for the South" - calling it "SATO."

"Those who were betting on NATO, we now say to them that we're going to bet on SATO," Qaddafi said during the summit. "We're going to have our treaty, too."

Chavez, a former army paratroop commander, says the United States poses the greatest potential threat to Venezuela, and has raised the idea of a South Atlantic defense bloc with other allies in the past.

On the economic side, Chavez said Venezuela signed agreements to work together on oil projects with South Africa, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan and Cape Verde. Chavez's government agreed to partner with South Africa's state oil company PetroSA in developing oil fields in Venezuela, and offered to help with oil projects in the other countries."

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