MOSCOW - VENEZUELAN President Hugo Chavez reached a deal with Russia on Friday to build a nuclear power plant in the South American country and negotiated several other agreements in energy and other areas.

Russia has cultivated close ties with Mr Chavez's government as part of its efforts to expand its global clout and counter US influence in Latin America.

President Dmitry Medvedev said the nuclear deal would help Venezuela develop modern energy sources in addition to its hydrocarbon riches.

'Our intentions are absolutely pure and open: we want our partner Venezuela to have a full range of energy possibilities,' Mr Medvedev said. 'Even though the country is rich in oil and gas, it needs to develop new energy sources.'

The cost of the deal, signed after Mr Chavez's talks with Mr Medvedev in the Kremlin, wasn't immediately announced.

Mr Chavez said that Venezuela needs to reduce its dependence on oil and gas and praised Russia for helping his country acquire new technologies.

Russia and Venezuela also have launched a joint business to tap vast oil deposits in eastern Venezuela, and Mr Chavez has said that Moscow has agreed to help Venezuela draw up plans for a nuclear power plant.

Venezuela to build nuclear plant