In a meeting between Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez yesterday in Caracas, both presidents emphasised that their relationship was about promoting peace and development, in light of U.S warnings against ties between the two countries.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told the press last Friday, "As the [Iranian] regime feels increasing pressure, it is desperate for friends and flailing around in interesting places to find new friends…We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties, with Iran."
"Rather, it's in the entire international community's interest to make clear to Iran that it's got a choice," she said.
Iran "can… remain in an international isolation, or it can comply with its obligations and start cooperating and rejoin the community of nations," she added.
Talking to press after the meeting with Ahmadinejad, Chavez joked that U.S. media reports made it sound as though he and Ahmadinejad would be launching missiles and bombs at the U.S. capital.
“We’re [Iran and Venezuelan governments] not war mongers, we haven’t invaded anyone, not Iran nor Venezuela… we haven’t dropped bombs on anyone, we’re not the ones who have killed defenceless people, who have invaded, who have used chemical warfare…against whole peoples, we have only been attacked and we continue to be attacked,” Chavez stated.
Ahmadinejad said the relationship between Venezuela and Iran is going to “deepen” and said the claim by some U.S spokespeople and media that he is visiting Iran to supposedly plan a military attack against the U.S is “an act of ignorance”.
“They say we [Iran] are making bombs, that is ignorance,” he said, adding that the U.S. is “scared” of the development of both countries.
“We’re two peoples against the greed of the arrogant ones. We resist all that and we defend our rights,” Ahmadinejad said.
“We have to confront imperialist craziness; it’s a threat to the world. The aim of Yankee [U.S.] imperialism to dominate the planet is impossible, but that doesn’t stop it being a threat,” Chavez said.
“We ask … for the freedom of the Iranian people and its legitimate government… for peace in Iran, and that the sovereignty of nations be respected. They accuse us of being a threat to the United States. They are the threat, and not a hypothetical one but a real, proven one,” Chavez said.
Venezuela’s foreign minister Nicolas Maduro also commented to the press that Venezuela and Iran have a “peaceful relationship…we have a relationship of cooperation for development… and above all, for peace.”
He also pointed out that as members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) the two countries have had relations for the last fifty years.
Agreements and collaboration
The presidents of Iran and Venezuela signed new agreements in industry, science and technology, and politics.
Agreements included training, studies, workshops, and exchange of professionals in nanotechnology (the manipulation of matter on a molecular scale), the creation of a bi-national group to follow and evaluate industrial development needs, another such group to coordinate economic and productive complementarity, and technology transfer in the areas of agriculture, food, industry, mining, and construction.
Ahmadinejad’s visit comes after the U.S. imposed tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, which it claims is for the development of atomic weapons. President Chavez has supported Iran’s statements that its program is purely for peaceful purposes.
Venezuela is the first stop in the Iranian President’s tour of Latin America, where he will also visit Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Cuba. It is his fourth visit to Caracas.
Over the last decade Venezuela and Iran have signed more than 270 accords, including trade deals and agreements on construction projects, car and tractor factories, energy initiatives and banking programs. Last year Iran assisted with the construction of 14,000 houses in Venezuela and it has helped install 26 agricultural and food plants so far, including corn processing plants.