Nguyen Minh Triet met the anti-US president on the eve of local elections seen as a referendum on Chavez's socialist policies in the polarised country.

Triet and Chavez were expected to discuss a joint development fund similar to deals Venezuela has with China and Iran, and to sign oil and gas deals.

"I've seen with my own eyes this country and the revolutionary process going on today," Triet said during a joint address broadcast across national TV stations. "Socialism will surely win out in our countries."

Chavez, meanwhile, said Venezuela was inspired not only by South American independence hero Simon Bolivar, but also by Vietnam's communist independence leader.

"Today Ho Chi Minh's work continues in Bolivarian Venezuela, where a deep political and social revolution is being carried out," Chavez said.

Since Chavez toured Vietnam in 2006, his government has stepped up bilateral relations with the Southeast Asian nation, whose Communist Party general Secretary Nong Duc Manh visited Caracas early last year.

State-run energy companies Petroleos de Venezuela and PetroVietnam have announced a number of joint projects since the Chavez visit. PetroVietnam has a concession in the oil-rich Orinoco basin in eastern Venezuela.

Both companies have agreed to deals for transporting Venezuelan oil to Vietnam, where they would also build a joint oil refinery, according to Venezuelan officials.

Rich in offshore oil reserves, Vietnam lacks refining capacity, forcing the country of 86 million to import refined petroleum products.

Vietnam and Venezuela set up diplomatic ties in 1989, but bilateral trade reached only US$11.7 million last year, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

Triet was due to end his two-day visit late Thursday and travel to Lima, Peru, for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit at the weekend.

Agence France Presse - 22 novembre 2008