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U.S. OK with Venezuelan arms purchase

May 19, 2005 at 8:31 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela, May 19 (UPI) -- U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield said he is no longer concerned about the country's purchase of 100,000 assault rifles from Russia.

Brownfield said that the presentation of the purchase by Venezuelan Defense Minister Jorge Luis Garcia Carneiro has "completely dispelled any suspicions and confusions" about the rifles, El Universal reported Thursday.

Garcia provided a list Tuesday of the exact types of weapons procured and their delivery dates in 2005 and 2006.

Talk of the arms purchase had been roundly condemned by the Bush administration for months. The White House accuses Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of attempting to create a Cuban-style authoritarian regime.

Officials in neighboring Colombia have accused Chavez of aiding Colombia's leftist rebel groups and expressed concerns the arms could wind up in rebel hands.

The U.S. ambassador however did raise concerns about what would happen to the old weapons.

"What will be their destiny? Where do they go?" inquired Brownfield.

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