Daily News - eluniversal.com: "Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his Malian counterpart Amadou Toumani Toure Wednesday initialed energy accords, but disclosed no details on the pacts, AP reported.Like everything with Hugo Chavez, nothing was left at random. Everything from rosy promises, to lucrative business deals, were on the negotiating tables, and Hugo Chavez's visible ease with the common people really worked at maintaining that image. And all this happened a few days after the Venezuelan leader recalled his ambassador to Israel, in solidarity with the Lebanese and Palestinian people. And to top it all, Chavez reclaimed his African roots, reminding everyone that his father was as black as Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure.
Venezuela is seeking closer ties with other South American nations and some African countries, amidst increased tensions with the United States.
Chávez said he intended to evaluate, together with Toure, any possibilities for oil exploitation in Mali. He plans to ink an agreement to assist Mali in oil prospection and drilling. Chávez is the first Venezuelan President who pays an official visit to Mali.
'We believe Mali could be the axis for cooperation with Africa. This is the view the Venezuelan President has,' said Rebecca Bello, Venezuelan ambassador to the West African nation.
Venezuelan ministers of Energy and Petroleum, Rafael Ramírez; Science and Technology, Yadira Córdova and Communication and Information, Willian Lara, held working meetings with their Malian counterparts.
Chávez Thursday is visiting Benin, in the continuation of a two-week world tour took him to Russia, Belarus, Iran and Vietnam, among other countries.
Hopefully, there is some substance behind the promises (and so far, Chavez has been decent at delivering). But I am curious to see how this new relationship between Africa and another "Anti-US" Latin American leader, is going to play out for Africa, in a world where the US' has a policy of "you are either with us, or against us".