By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) - Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to develop economic and military cooperation with Caracas at a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday.
Maduro pays his first international visit to Russia following the political crisis in the country, provoked by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who announced himself an interim president, the move, resulted in refusal of the western countries to recognize Maduro as the head of state.
"For me, it is a great joy to be here, in Russia, again. And I think we proved that we can jointly overcome any difficulties. We support well-tuned cooperation in all the domains," Maduro said.
According to the president, he came to Moscow to summarize what was done this year, to examine the problems the two countries currently face and to make plans for the future.
Putin praised Russian-Venezuelan cooperation in economic, energy and military spheres, saying the trade turnover between the two countries grew by 10% thanks to the counter deliveries of the agricultural products despite "an external pressure on Venezuela" this year.
"I would like to stress our cooperation in the military and military‑technical fields. First of all, it relates to the obligations of Russia, which we undertook in regard of the maintenance of Russian-made equipment previously acquired by Venezuela. Delivery of spare parts, creation of service centers -- all these works go on a firm schedule in accordance with our agreements," Putin said.
The Russian president added that Russia invested $4 billion in the Venezuelan energy projects and eyes to strengthen its position in the country's pharmaceutical industry.
Putin promised further support "to the legitimate authorities" and encouraged Maduro for the dialogue with the opposition forces, meaning to achieve "a national agreement".
"We support the dialogue that you, Mr President, and your government are conducting with the opposition forces. We consider any refusal to engage in dialogue to be irrational, harmful to the country and only threatening the well-being of the Venezuelan population," Putin said.
Venezuela has been rocked by political unrest, beginning on Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term. Tension escalated on Jan. 23 when parliament member Guaido declared himself interim president.
Russia, China and Iran have thrown their weight behind Maduro, as has Turkey.