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Clinton warns Chavez about arms purchases

The United States has warned Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that his weapons purchases could start an arms race in the region.

“We have expressed concern about the number of Venezuelan arms purchases.They outpace all other countries in South America,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.

“And certainly raise questions as to whether there is going to be an arms race in the region,” she added.

Her remarks came after Russia agreed to give Venezuela $2.2 billion in credit to buy surface-to-air missiles and armored vehicles.

Chavez announced that the new deal is crucial to his country’s defense strategy as Caracas is facing the threat of a US attack.

The top US diplomat also expressed concern over the potential diversion of weapons to insurgent groups.

Venezuela “should be putting in place procedures and practices to ensure that the weapons they buy are not diverted to insurgent groups or illegal organizations like drug trafficking gangs and other criminal cartels,” Clinton said.

“We hope that we can see a change in behavior and attitude on the part of the Venezuelan government,” she added.

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