Chavez to ask OPEC for soft oil financing for poor

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BEIJING, Nov 15 (Reuters) A Venezuelan scheme that offers Caribbean nations oil on advantageous terms inspired President Hugo Chavez's proposal for OPEC to help poor nations deal with high oil prices, his top diplomat said on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro also said Chavez was planning his fifth visit to China for early next year, with ties between Venezuela and the world's number two oil consumer closer than ever and crude shipments soaring.

Earlier this week Chavez proposed OPEC finance social development programs for poor countries and increase its diplomatic activity, seeking to put his self-styled socialist revolution on the global stage, but gave few details.

However Maduro said the plan, which will be unveiled at this week's heads-of-state meeting for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Riyadh, was inspired by the Petrocaribe accord, which Venezuela launched in 2005.

It provides oil and fuel on advantageous terms to Caribbean countries, with participants such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic offered soft financing terms and the option to pay their bills in-kind with products like bananas and nutmeg.

''This experience with Petrocaribe convinces us that it is possible to construct formulas of solidarity, based on energy,'' Maduro said, when asked about Chavez' plan.

''Those countries with strength in the energy sector can contribute with this formula of solidarity to the development and the improvement of the economic capacity and quality of life of those peoples which need it most in the south of the planet....this is the central proposal,'' he added.

Chavez will unveil details at the OPEC meeting, where they will be discussed further by member countries, Maduro added.

He also stressed growing energy ties between Beijing and Caracas as former soldier Chavez seeks to reduce traditionally close ties with the United States and bolster relations with other oil buyers.

''Four years ago we did not export a single drop of oil to China, now this year we will reach our target of 350,000 barrels per day and by the start of the next decade plan to increase that to one million,'' Maduro told a news conference.

Venezuela had agreed on Tuesday to borrow billion from China and repay the loan with fuel, but Maduro did not sign any new deals during the trip, an embassy spokeswoman said.

REUTERS SLD RS1824

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