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US Vigilant on Venezuela-Iran Energy Deals

The United States will be vigilant of the energy cooperation deals made between Iran and Venezuela to make sure they do not violate sanctions against Tehran, the US State Department said Thursday.

"Venezuela like all countries has clear responsibilities," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

"We will watch to see if any of these deals amount to anything and if they do, whether they constitute a violation of the (UN) Security Council resolutions and sanctions against Iran."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday signed 11 deals with Tehran focused on energy cooperation between the two major oil producers and US foes. Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad both denounced American "imperialism" and called for a "new world order" during the visit, part of the South American leader's international tour aimed at strengthening Venezuela's economic ties with eastern Europe and the Middle East.

"It is hard for me to see how President Chavez's current travel can be seen as constructive," Crowley said.

"Venezuela has a right to pursue civilian nuclear energy," Crowley added, though "it also has a responsibility to make sure that any nuclear program does not represent a proliferation risk."

Earlier this week US President Barack Obama backed Venezuela's efforts to develop nuclear power for civilian energy purposes after Caracas and Moscow signed a landmark deal.

Chavez clinched a deal in Moscow on Friday that will see Russia build and operate the first nuclear power plant in his country.(AFP)


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