Chavez, Ahmadinejad Solidify Iran-Venezuela Ties

Monday, 18 September 2006 21:17 by: Anonymous

    Chavez, Ahmadinejad Solidify Iran-Venezuela Ties
    Agence France-Presse

    Tuesday 19 September 2006

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed a united front in Venezuela as two of the United States' biggest irritants cemented their ties.

    Chavez and Ahmadinejad exchanged words of praise, signed several energy agreements and inaugurated an Iranian-Venezuelan oil well during the Iranian leader's two-day visit.

    "Venezuela and Iran have demonstrated that together, out of the reach of hegemony and American imperialism, they can work and improve," Ahmadinejad said at the oil well in southeastern Venezuela.

    "For all the people who want to live free and independent, the message is that we can achieve this kind of victory. We are at the beginning of the path and we must know each other," he said.

    During Ahmadinejad's visit, Venezuela's leftist president renewed his support for Iran's disputed uranium enrichment program, which the United States and other Western countries fear would be used for the development of a nuclear bomb.

    The United States is pushing for sanctions to force Tehran to stop producing enriched uranium, which can be used both for nuclear power and atomic weapons. Iran insists that it seeks peaceful nuclear power to meet its energy needs.

    "We are with you president, we will defend the rights of the Iranian people," Chavez, who has visited Iran several times, told Ahmadinejad.

    The two leaders share an enmity toward the United States, which Chavez has accused of plotting to overthrow him.

    "Hugo is my brother," Ahmadinejad said Sunday at the Caracas Military Academy. "Hugo is the champion of the fight against imperialism."

    Ahmadinejad said the Venezuelan people "should not allow the world's tyrants, especially the United States, interfere in their acts."

    The two presidents, who attended a summit of the developing world's Non-Aligned Movement in Cuba last week, will attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week. Ahmadinejad will leave Venezuela Monday.

    Chavez and Ahmadinejad, whose countries are members of OPEC, inaugurated Monday a Venezuelan-Iranian oil well in the Orinoco river basin in southeastern Venezuela.

    Experts and Venezuela, the world's eighth oil producer, estimate that 235 billion barrels of crude can be extracted from the Orinoco oil belt.

    If proven, the reserve could make Venezuela the world's biggest oil producer ahead of Saudi Arabia.

    The two signed Sunday 29 bilateral agreements, notably in the energy sector. Among the agreements, Iran will transfer oil exploration technology to Venezuela.

    Chavez denied allegations that his country was secretly extracting uranium but did not rule out a future agreement on nuclear technology transfer with Iran.

    "I have already begun to fight imperialists and internal enemies who continue to say that Iran is coming looking for uranium ... to make an atomic bomb," Chavez said Sunday.

    "They don't tire of lying, but their attacks have run up against the power of morality and truth," he said.

    Colombia's ambassador to the Organization of American States recently said Venezuela was extracting uranium in buildings disguised as bicycle factories. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said the envoy had made a mistake.

    "Regarding the bicycle factories, I want to tell them that a bike is not atomic energy," Ahmadinejad said Monday during a visit at an Iranian-Venezuelan tractor factory. "The atomic energy of Venezuela is the youth of Venezuela."

Last modified on Monday, 21 April 2008 15:38