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US Navy mission not linked to Russia, Venezuela

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-12

The US navy has denied that sending a warship to the Caribbean on a medical mission is linked to planned Russian naval exercises with Venezuela. The ship's captain insisted his focus is "only humanitarian assistance".

The six-nation medical mission of a US warship in the Caribbean is not a response to Russian military maneuvers due to take place off Venezuela later this month, the commander of the USS Kearsarge said here Tuesday.
"Yes, I am aware the Russians coming into this area, but that has nothing to do with this mission, there is no nexus between this mission and their arrival," Captain Fernandez Ponds told AFP.
The 844-foot long Kearsarge left its home port in Virginia in early August and is now in Guyana providing medical and veterinary treatment, following similar exercises in Nicaragua, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Asked whether the vessel's visit was part of US foreign policy and public diplomacy efforts, Ponds emphasized that "my focus and my focus only is humanitarian assistance."
"What we are doing here is about goodwill, it is about helping people, nothing else, that's what this mission is about -- nothing else," said Ponds.
Russia's nuclear-powered missile cruiser, the Northern Fleet flagship, Pyotr Velikiy, along with an anti-submarine ship Admiral Chabanenko, and support vessels will visit Caracas in November for international exercises, including joint drills with the Venezuelan Navy in Venezuelan and international waters.

Date created : 2008-11-12