Lukashenka honors Venezuelan president

Alyaksandr Lukashenka has presented Belarus' state award, Order of Friendship between Peoples, to his visiting Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez.

The award ceremony took place on Wednesday in an alley in downtown Minsk that has recently been named after Venezuela's most famous son, Simon Bolivar, who is remembered across Central and South America as Liberator.

"This award is evidence of Hugo Chavez's significant contribution to the development of friendly relations between Belarus and Venezuela. Not a single president in history has done as much for our country as this person has done," the Belarusian leader said.

He said that Venezuela did much for Belarus' independence. "There is no person who has more right to the Order of Friendship between Peoples than you, Hugo," he told the Venezuelan president.

Mr. Lukashenka said that Belarus was carrying out large-scale projects in Venezuela and "perfectly" understood that this was possible only thanks to Mr. Chavez personally.

He pledged that a memorial to Bolivar would be put up in the alley in the shortest possible time, noting that he would welcome the participation of a Venezuelan sculptor.

He said that he was grateful to Mr. Chavez that he invited Belarusian "specialists to implement plans for ensuring the independence and revival of Venezuela."

Having thanked the Belarusian leader for the award, Mr. Chavez said, "Belarus and Venezuela are struggling together against a single enemy, the imperialism of the USA and those countries that are its flunkeys. A long battle is still lying ahead, but we are winning and will win."

Mr. Chavez described relations between the two countries as a political, economic, technical and social alliance. //BelaPAN