Chavez pledges closer ties with Iran

Iran and Venezuela plan to stand up against “imperialist” foes by strengthening bilateral cooperation on a range of issues, including nuclear power, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday.

“Expansion of Tehran-Caracas relations is necessary given their common interests, friends and foes,” Ahmadinejad said after a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart President Hugo Chavez, according to Iran’s semiofficial FARS news agency. Chavez was in Tehran on Saturday with a team of high-ranking officials for a two-day visit. Chavez reiterated the goal: “Tehran and Caracas should help revolutionary nations through further expansion and consolidation of their ties.” Venezuela announced a new agreement with Iran for a joint geological study in the South American country’s Andean belt, the state-run ABN news agency said.

Don’t Miss
Anti-Chavez marches fail to draw crowds

Chavez highlighted bilateral projects already under way, including the construction of ethanol plants in Venezuela, and gas exploration in Iran by Venezuela’s state-run oil company. On Saturday, Chavez hinted of future projects as well. The Venezuelan president said he aims to build a “nuclear village” with Iranian help in his country, according to Iran’s Press TV. The details of such a plan were unknown. Chavez backed Iran’s claims that its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes. “There is not a single proof that Iran is building … a nuclear bomb,” Chavez said after the leaders met, according to Press TV. “Soon they will accuse us also of building an atomic bomb.” The visit was Chavez’s eighth to Iran, and the first since Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election. Chavez’s trip to Iran follows visits to Libya, Algeria and Syria. He will visit Belarus and Russia before returning to Venezuela.