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Iran president to visit fellow US foe Chavez

Ahmadinejad will visit Venezuela this month to cement close ties between two US foes from OPEC countries.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2006 05:47 IST

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela this month to cment increasingly close ties between two US foes from OPEC countries.

Ahmadinejad plans to arrive on Sept. 17 after a stop in Cuba for a meeting of Third World nations, a diplomatic source said on Friday.

Chavez on Thursday said the Iranian president would visit within two weeks.

The news comes at a time of tense relations between Caracas and Washington and as the Bush administration is urging the United Nations to impose sanctions against Iran for its nuclear enrichment program.

Chavez, the most visible face of a leftist resurgence in Latin America, has built strong ties to longtime US adversaries like Cuba and Iran as he promotes a socialist "revolution" to end poverty in the world's No. 5 oil exporter.

He has in recent weeks toured the world seeking support for Venezuela's bid for a rotating seat on the UN Security Council, paying visits to nations such as Syria and Belarus that also clash with the United States.

Venezuela and Iran have already signed numerous cooperation agreements ranging from joint ventures to build cars and tractors to an oil exploration agreement for Venezuela's Orinoco heavy crude belt.

Chavez has also strongly defended Iran's right to nuclear development, and has promised to confront US "imperialism" around the world.

Washington accuses Venezuela of using its oil wealth to destabilize democracy in the region, and the US State Department in May said Venezuela was not cooperating in the war on terrorism.

This month the United States ordered the South American nation to close a military acquisitions office in Miami, sparking outrage on the part of Venezuelan authorities.

First Published: Sep 09, 2006 05:43 IST