Chavez and Iran unite against US

 SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2007 3:30 MECCA TIME, 0:30 GMT

Ahmadinejad and Chavez have strong ties and frequently call each other “brother” [AFP]

The presidents of Iran and Venezuela have agreed to spend billions of dollars to help other countries free themselves from US domination.

Hugo Chavez made the comments in a speech on Saturday with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is on a tour of Latin America.

The two also called for Opec oil production cuts to support falling crude prices.

They had previously announced plans to establish a joint $2bn fund for projects in Venezuela and Iran but on Saturday they said that the money would also be used to help friendly third countries.

“This fund, my brother,” Chavez said, “will become a mechanism for liberation.”

Chavez said the fund “will permit us to underpin investments … above all in those countries whose governments are making efforts to liberate themselves from the [US] imperialist yoke”.

“Death to US imperialism.”

Ahmadinejad said that Tehran and Caracas had the task of “promoting revolutionary thought in the world.”

“The reason for all the current problems is the erroneous direction of the powerful countries, where there is poverty, hate, enmity and war,” he added.

Oil agreement

The two presidents announced that they would make a joint effort to obtain new oil production cuts.

“Today we know that there is too much crude in the market, that’s why we support, we will support the decision that have been taken to reduce production and protect the price of oil,” Chavez said.

He emphasised that he was sending the message “to all the heads of state in the Opec countries to continue to strengthen our organisation in this direction”.

Members of the 11-nation organisation of the petroleum exporting countries have expressed concern about the falling price of oil, which has slid some 14 per cent since the start of the year.

Ahmadinejad has praised Chavez for his outspoken support of Iran’s nuclear programme, which the US and European governments say is part of a project to build atomic weapons.

Vocal supporter

Facing sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council over its uranium enrichment work and the threat of international isolation, Iran is keen to demonstrate it has backing among a number of leaders in Latin America.

Chavez is the most vocal supporter in Latin America for Iran and its president, with both men calling each other “brother” and relishing their status as fierce opponents of Washington’s influence.

“Iran has not instigated any conflict with any other nation in recent history” – Farsoldier, Canada

“Hugo is my brother,” Ahmadinejad said during his last visit to Venezuela in September, when the two leaders inaugurated a joint oil well. “Hugo is the champion of the fight against imperialism.”

In September 2005, Venezuela was alone in opposing a resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that found Iran in violation of nuclear safeguards. Since then, Chavez has completely backed Iran’s right to enrich uranium.

Iran and Venezuela are both important players in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and have signed numerous co-operation agreements in the energy sector and other fields.

During a visit to Iran last September, Chavez came out in support of Iran’s nuclear programme, as well as denouncing Israeli military operations in Lebanon.

The two presidents also signed deals covering iron and steel production, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and health care equipment, and munitions.

Cultivating allies

While Ahmadinejad seeks to cultivate Latin American allies, Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, is in the Middle East to rally Arab support for a new US strategy in Iraq and to counter Iran’s alleged interference in Iraq.

Late on Saturday, Ahmadinejad arrived in Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega has just returned to power. The Iranian president was met at the airport by the new Nicaraguan president.

“We will try to expand and strengthen ties in our visit to this country and talks with him,” Ahmadinejad said before leaving Tehran.

On Monday, Ahmadinejad will take part in the swearing-in ceremony of Ecuador’s new president Rafael Correa, who has vowed to forge stronger ties with Venezuela and not to renew a lease for a US military air base on the country’s Pacific coast.

The Iranian president will also hold meetings with other South American presidents including Bolivia’s Evo Morales on the sidelines of the ceremony in Ecuador, before finishing his tour on Tuesday.

Source: Al Jazeera

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