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TEHRAN, January 9 (Itar-Tass) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began his Latin American tour on Sunday, local news agencies reported.
The first leg of his tour is Venezuela. He will also visit Cuba and Ecuador and attend the inauguration of re-elected Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
“We have excellent relations with all countries of Latin America and these relations are developing. We have much in common in cultures and historical expectations of those countries’ people and the Iranian nation,” the Iranian leader said before his departure to Caracas. “First of all, these are anti-colonial thinking and resistance to the regime of oppression.”
Earlier U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Ahmadinejad’s Latin American trip showed Iran was “desperate for 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,” she said.
On Sunday during his weekly TV show “Alo Presidente” (Hello President) Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez laughed off Washington’s warning to avoid ties with Tehran.
“They (the United States) imagine different versions about how Iran prepares attacks on the United States from the territories of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua,” Chavez said.