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Venezuela to develop nuclear power: Chavez

world Updated: Nov 17, 2007 10:16 IST

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said that his oil rich country will develop a nuclear-energy programme "for peaceful purposes", the Spanish news agency EFE said.

"Venezuela will also begin developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as Brazil and Argentina are doing," he said in an interview with France-24 television that aired on Thursday

Chavez, who said he is certain that Iran is not making atomic bombs, defended nuclear power not only as a solution to the energy crisis facing the world with its soaring oil prices and shrinking reserves, but also as an answer to climate change and atmospheric pollution.

Venezuela, the world's No.6 oil exporter and a key supplier to the US, is thought to have uranium deposits.

He added that many countries should make use of that kind of energy. "I believe it is a necessity," he said.

Chavez will arrive in France Tuesday after visiting Iran and Saudi Arabia, where he will take part in the summit of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

In the same interview, Chavez said that he would brief French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the Venezuelan's effort to broker a prisoner exchange between the Colombian government and that Andean nation's FARC rebels.

The FARC wants to swap 45 high-value captives for hundreds of jailed guerrillas.

Paris has an interest in the matter because one of the FARC's "exchangeables," former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, holds dual French citizenship.