Hugo Chavez is shaking a lot of hands, writing a lot of checks and eating a lot of rubber chicken:

  • In Russia:

Chavez revealed during his visit to Moscow that Venezuela sought Russian participation in the construction of an 8,000-kilometer, $20 billion pipeline connecting Venezuela with the Atlantic coast via Brazil and Rio de la Plata. Venezuela also signed an agreement with Russia for construction of a pipe-making plant.

Venezuela’s imports of goods and services from the US for its oil industry work out to $5 billion. Chavez is determined to reduce the level of dependency. This generates export opportunities for Russia’s oil-engineering industry. (See article here.)

  • In Belarus:

Venezuela’s anti-U.S. leader Hugo Chavez began a major international tour with a visit to the isolated former Soviet nation of Belarus, whose authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko is dubbed ‘Europe’s last dictator’ by Washington.

. . . Lukashenko, whose regime has become an international pariah, charges that the U.S. and other Western nations are trying to overthrow him.

Lukashenko’s spokesman Pavel Liogky told The Associated Press that Venezuela was a ”strategic partner” for Belarus.

”In particular we share the view that the world shouldn’t be unipolar,” he said, referring to U.S. global dominance. (See article here.)

  • In Qatar:

On arrival in Qatar, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias has once again called on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon.

Chavez Frias is meeting Emir Mamad ibn Khalifa in Doha to discuss mostly energy-related affairs, as well as lobby support for Venezuela’s bid to occupy a seat on the UN Security Council for two years. (See article here.)

  • In Iran:

TEHRAN, Iran – Anti-U.S. leaders Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met in Tehran on Saturday, pledging mutual support for one another, state media reported.

. . . Following talks, Chávez pledged that his country would ”stay by Iran at any time and under any condition,” state television reported.Ahmadinejad said he saw in Chávez a kindred spirit.

”I feel I have met a brother and trench mate after meeting Chávez,” Ahmadinejad was quoted by state-run television as saying. “We think Iran and Venezuela should share all experiences of each other, stay by each other, and they have to be supporters of each other.” (See article here.)

  • In Vietnam:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez praised Vietnam for its battle against “imperialism” and pledged to help the communist country develop its nascent oil and gas industry during a two-day state visit.

Chavez, the first-ever Venezuelan head of state to visit Vietnam, also signed three cooperation agreements with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet, including one dealing with energy.

“We are willing to support and cooperate with Vietnam to help it to be independent in oil production and refinery,” Chavez told reporters after arriving on Monday.

Vietnam is building its first oil refinery plant in a central province. Currently, it exports all its crude oil, 18 million tons last year, and imports refined oil products.

Chavez, a fierce critic of the United States, praised Vietnam for winning independence from colonial ruler France and defeating the US in the Vietnam War, saying its battles against “imperialism” had set “a big example for the world.” (See article here.)

  • In Mali:

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Venezuela will aid Mali’s energy sector and the two nations aim to establish air links and abolish visa restrictions, a senior official said on Tuesday as President Hugo Chavez was due to visit the African country. Accused by U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday of undermining democracy, Chavez is expected to meet Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure on Wednesday in the latest stage of a world tour that has included Russia, Iran and Vietnam.

Chavez, making his second visit to West Africa in a month, will seal a number of deals with Mali, landlocked and dirt poor despite being Africa’s third biggest gold producer, Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Reinaldo Bolivar told Reuters.

“These accords cover notably the abolition of visa services between Caracas and Bamako, allowing the countries of Latin America to be linked to Africa, and on Venezuelan support to Mali in the energy sector,” Bolivar said in an interview in Bamako, where he was preparing the ground for Chavez. (See article here.)

Donations for the Hugo Chavez Diplomatic Dinner Heartburn Relief Fund may be made c/o The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Caracas. Donations for the concomitantly necessary George W. Bush Geo-Political Ulcer Relief Fund may be made c/o The White House, Washington, D.C., USA.