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Russian defense minister accepts invitation to attend Venezuelan military exercises

February 12, 2015, 3:04 UTC+3 CARACAS

Venezuela’s Defense Minister General Vladimir Padrino Lopez extended the invitation to Shoigu during talks in Caracas on Wednesday

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CARACAS, February 11 /TASS/. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has accepted the invitation of Venezuela’s defense minister to participate in Venezuelan military exercises.

Venezuela’s Defense Minister General Vladimir Padrino Lopez extended the invitation to Shoigu during talks in Caracas on Wednesday.

"I have accepted your invitation with pleasure. We are certainly going to take part in your exercises that will involve anti-aircraft forces and in practical shootings from multiple rocket launcher systems," Shoigu said adding that Russian Navy ships would pay a friendly visit to Venezuelan ports.

"Last year, Russian Navy ships called at Venezuelan ports on a friendly mission. We hope we will be able to repeat it this year. I am gladly accepting your invitation to make this call," Shoigu told General Lopez.

The Russian defense minister expressed the hope that military educational establishments in both countries would expand cooperation and student exchanges. Shoigu invited the children of Venezuelan officers to come to Russia to study at cadet schools and military colleges.

"We are planning to invite children from officers’ families to undergo training at our cadet and Suvorov military schools," the Russian defense minister said noting that those educational establishments had old and long-standing traditions.

"But more importantly, it will help laying down the foundation for future relations of close friendship between our peoples and our Armed Forces," Shoigu went on to say.

He also said that he had watched the Venezuelan team at tank biathlon competitions, which Russia hosted last year. The Venezuelan team, Shoigu said, "had fought fiercely." He invited the Venezuelan defense minister to attend tank biathlon and other competitions this summer. Shoigu also thanked his Venezuelan counterpart for an opportunity to pay tribute to the deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and lay a wreath at his tomb.

"It’s a great honor and naturally a tribute to a person who did so much for Venezuela and for promoting warm, friendly and at the same time fruitful relations between Russia and Venezuela," Shoigu noted.

"This kind of relations exists not only between the leaders, presidents, the heads of government and ministers. They exist among people both in our country and here in Venezuela. I have never heard about any contradictions in our relations," the Russian defense minister stressed.

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