Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for a strategic partnership with Belarus Friday, calling his Belarusian counterpart a "brother-in-arms" and lamenting the pressure he said the United States was putting on Minsk and Caracas. Chavez traveled to Belarus to meet with President Alexander Lukashenko after wrapping up two-days of meetings in Moscow, where Russia media speculated that Chavez was trying to arrange a new major purchase of Russian weaponry. In Minsk, Chavez told Lukashenko that economic and military ties between the two countries were developing, and he referred to the United States as "the Empire." "There are few nations in the world that are put under as strong pressure from the Empire as Belarus," Chavez said. He called on Lukashenko to "develop relations in the form of a union and a strategic alliance.