Venezuela announced Thursday the purchase of three Chinese military radar systems under President Hugo Chavez' military modernization plans, which have prompted US criticism.
Venezuela purchased the three-dimensional, long-range JYL-1 radar systems for command of military air operations from China's state-owned Electronics Import and Export Corporation, Venezuela's state news agency ABN said.
The deal was signed by Venezuelan Defense Minister Orlando Maniglia and Qu Huimin, the vice president of the Chinese company, who said that in 18 months new purchases may be made.
The deal includes spare parts, technical and operational training.
Chavez has purchased 15 helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles from Russia, four ships and 10 transport planes from Spain, among other items.
Washington has said that Chavez' rearming threatens Latin American democracies, especially neighboring Colombia, if the weapons wind up in the hands of rebels, paramilitary death squads and drug dealers fighting there.
Meanwhile, Chavez strongly denied US charges that he is supporting Colombian rebels or trying to destabilize other South American countries, accusing the US of spreading lies and of being a "terrorist state."
Chavez lashed out at what he calls the "US empire" Thursday night as he responded to statements by State Department officials who accused Venezuela of backing Colombian guerrillas with weapons and funding "anti-democratic groups" in Bolivia, Ecuador and elsewhere.
"They accuse us of buying arms to give them to the guerrillas -- no, they're for our troops," Chavez said. "They are a terrorist state, but they accuse us of being terrorists."
Venezuela has signed a deal to buy 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles from Russia, and Chavez said the guns are due to arrive soon.
High-ranking US officials also have expressed alarm about Chavez's plans to buy military helicopters from Russia, his virtual domination of Venezuela's political system and his increasingly close ties to Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
In some of his sharpest comments in months, Chavez accused Washington of stepping up a campaign of lies to try to isolate his government.
Chavez, a former army officer elected in 1998 on pledges of leading a "peaceful revolution" for the poor, often accuses the US government of plotting against him to try to take control of the country's vast oil reserves.
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