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Venezuela's Chavez urges Brazil to counter US

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged Brazil on Thursday to accelerate trade and energy integration with his country to help counterbalance U.S. interests in the region.

The leader of the oil-rich Caribbean nation criticized Brazil for dragging its feet on his proposal to build a $20 billion pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina that would supply much of South America with gas.

"We are very surprised there are people here that oppose (the pipeline)," Chavez said in the northern Brazil city of Manaus before a meeting with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"Venezuela has 80 percent of South America's proven gas reserves -- let the Brazilians know that," he said.

The two left-wing leaders favor South American integration as a counterbalance to the trade interests of rich countries but Lula has repeatedly distanced himself from Chavez's anti-market and nationalist policies.

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