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Venezuela says prepared to send Syria more fuel

01 march 2012, 18:11
Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez . Photo courtesy of noticias24.com
Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez . Photo courtesy of noticias24.com
Venezuela's oil minister said Wednesday his government would send more fuel to Syria if authorities were to request it, after confirming that two shipments of diesel were sent last year, AFP reports.

The United States and the European Union have tightened sanctions in an effort to isolate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime over its deadly months-long crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

But Venezuela's left-wing President Hugo Chavez has defended Assad, accusing Western "colonial powers" of meddling in its internal affairs.

"They asked us on two occasions for diesel shipments and on two occasions, we provided them. They each contained 300,000 barrels," Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told journalists Wednesday.

"If they ask us again, we'll give them more," Ramirez, who also heads Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA, said during a trip to the oil-rich Orinoco Belt in eastern Venezuela.

Ramirez had confirmed the two 2011 shipments on Monday, without offering further details.

"We have a wide range of agreements with Syria," he said, adding that Syria was "a country harassed by imperialism."

The oil minister also criticized sanctions against Syria and Iran, two countries with which Venezuela maintains close economic and political relations. Caracas has not bought or sold oil to Iran, Ramirez said.

On Monday, European foreign ministers agreed to more sanctions that include a freeze on Syria's central bank assets over the crackdown, which a top UN official say has left "well over 7,500" people dead since March 2011.

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