November 19, 2007

Chavez and Ahmadinejad. The main enemies of the US at this time

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wrapped up a visit to the Islamic republic aimed at building a "strategic unity" with fellow anti-US populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At the end of a one-day visit, which both presidents described as "very fruitful", the two countries agreed to create a binational bank and a joint fund to expand industrial cooperation, state media reported. The Venezuelan president before leaving Tehran renewed his verbal attacks on the United States, wishing that "the weakening of dollar leads to the fall of the dollar empire."

Chavez, who was accompanied by five ministers including the foreign, oil and industry ministers, last visited Iran in July, laying the foundations alongside Ahmadinejad for a joint petrochemical plant. Both Chavez and his self-proclaimed political "brother" Ahmadinejad attended a weekend OPEC summit in Riyadh, where Chavez warned oil could hit 200 dollars a barrel if the United States attacked Iran. State television showed a smiling Ahmadinejad warmly welcoming his stocky counterpart at an official ceremony.

Despite their cultural differences, Iran and Venezuela have in the last years forged increasingly strong ties based on their shared dislike of the United States. Chavez is the most vocal cheerleader in Latin America for Iran and its nuclear programme, which is feared by the West to be a cover for weapons development although Tehran insists it is purely peaceful. Both staunchly anti-American leaders with a passion for provocative statements, Ahmadinejad and Chavez appeared to have forged a close personal bond marked by much mutual back-slapping and embracing.

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