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Ahmadinejad launches tour of US foes in Latin America

TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, facing new sanctions over his nation's suspect nuclear program, arrived in Venezuela on Sunday to start a five-day tour aimed at shoring up ties in Latin America.The Iranian leader, who is traveling with several of his top ministers, was welcomed with military honors at the international airport in Caracas, according...

SAMAA | - Posted: Jan 9, 2012 | Last Updated: 9 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Jan 9, 2012 | Last Updated: 9 years ago
Ahmadinejad launches tour of US foes in Latin America

TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, facing new sanctions over his nation's suspect nuclear program, arrived in Venezuela on Sunday to start a five-day tour aimed at shoring up ties in Latin America.The Iranian leader, who is traveling with several of his top ministers, was welcomed with military honors at the international airport in Caracas, according to images broadcast on state television network VTV.Ahmadinejad will meet fellow US foe and firebrand Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a four-nation trip that coincides with rising global alarm over Tehran's reputed attempts to build an atomic weapon — a charge Tehran denies.Chavez said earlier Sunday he hoped the Iranian leader would “rest a bit tonight and then tomorrow we will work all day reviewing cooperation agreements.””We are not a threat to anyone. We have sovereign rights,” the Venezuelan leader said on his Sunday radio and television program, in an implicit jab at the United States' stated concerns about Iran and Venezuela.The remarks came in Chavez's first such weekly broadcast since he was diagnosed with cancer last year, which he later said was successfully treated.Ahmadinejad's talks with Chavez will be followed Tuesday with a trip to Nicaragua to attend the inauguration of its recently re-elected leader Daniel Ortega. Stops in Cuba and Ecuador will round off the tour.All four countries have frosty ties with the United States, and their leaders have in the past four years made numerous Tehran visits to build up diplomatic and business links while relations with Washington have worsened.Just before leaving Iran, Ahmadinejad said that all the countries on his itinerary “resist the oppression” of the United States and share “an anti-colonialist view,” according to the Fars news agency.”Latin America is a region that the oppressive regime (the United States) sees as its backyard where it can do as it likes. But today the people have awoken and are acting independently,” he said.Ahmadinejad called Chavez “a hero in the struggle against the oppression”, said Ortega was leading a “revolution (that) is the same as the Iranian revolution”, and praised Ecuador's ruling “revolutionaries who battle the (US) regime of domination”. He said he planned to sign deals in all four countries.Officials in Ecuador have said Ahmadinejad will visit Quito on Thursday.The United States on Friday urged Latin American countries against deepening their ties with Iran.”As the regime feels increasing pressure, it is desperate for friends and flailing around in interesting places to find new friends,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said when asked about Ahmadinejad's trip.

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