Russia has signed a deal to sell 98 Ilyushin civilian aircraft to Venezuela, Russian newspapers reported on Friday.

Sergei Chemezov, head of state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, signed the deal for the Ilyushin-114 planes, which can be used as passenger and cargo planes, the Vremya-Novostei newspaper said.

The deal could be worth several billion U.S. dollars, the Izvestia newspaper reported.

Russia said last year it had sold 24 Sukhoi jets and 53 helicopters to Venezuela as part of a long-term package of arms contracts worth over $3 billion. Details were not disclosed.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visited Russia in June when he thanked President Vladimir Putin for showing solidarity in Venezuela's feud with Washington.

Chavez is a vocal critic of what he calls U.S. imperialism. Washington considers him a dangerous radical and had urged Russia to rethink the weapons' sale. It bans American companies from selling weapons to Venezuela.

Russia has been seeking to break into new markets for arms and aircraft sales in Latin America, south east Asia and north Africa. Its main customers for arms are India and China.