Honduras seeks to resume oil imports from Venezuela

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TEGUCIGALPA, Nov 25 (Reuters) Honduras is seeking to resume oil imports from Venezuela after 15 years in a move that would further strengthen President Hugo Chavez's influence in Central America.

The administration of President Manuel Zelaya, burdened by the surge of international oil prices, will start talks with Caracas next week and the idea is to make all of its fuel oil imports from Venezuela.

Fuel oil is used for electric generation.

''The annual imports from Venezuela would be between 0 and 800 million dollars,'' Minister of the Presidency Yani Rosenthal said on Saturday.

Honduras oil imports in 2006 were around 1.05 billion dollars. The budget for this year is 1.2 billion dollars.

From 1980 to 1993, Honduras bought oil from Mexico and Venezuela as part of a pact aimed at offering cheap oil to debt and war-ridden Latin American countries.

For the past two years, Chavez has spearheaded a new take on that pact, urging big producers to sell oil cheaply to their neighbors.

US foe Chavez has close economic ties to Nicaragua where leftist President Daniel Ortega, who ruled for much of the 1980s, returned to power in January.

REUTERS SZ RN1111

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