Venezuela and Iran strengthened their growing ties on Saturday
with a stream of anti-US statements, various commercial agreements
and a pledge to push for a cut in world oil supplies to counter
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blamed the United States, the
archfoe of both Caracas and Teheran, for undermining the
significance of the OPEC cartel to bring down oil prices, which
have tumbled 15 percent this year during a mild US winter.
"We agreed this afternoon to increase our coordinated efforts in
OPEC and with the major oil producers outside OPEC to safeguard the
price of our main product," Chavez said at a meeting in Caracas
with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"Today we know there is too much oil in the market and we will
support decisions taken to cut production and safeguard the oil
Iran is the world's fourth-biggest oil exporter, while
Venezuela, according to US data, has slumped to eighth place from
fifth. Still, both countries are significant OPEC voices.
Ahmadinejad and Chavez, two ex-soldiers who came to power on
populist platforms, have developed a close personal relationship,
often hailing each other as "brother."
Chavez has backed Ahmadinejad in his battle with the
international community over Iran's nuclear program, which last
month led to limited UN sanctions.
While the US accuses Iran of seeking to build atomic weapons,
Chavez has insisted that Teheran wants to use nuclear technology
only to generate electricity. Chavez and Ahmadinejad did not
address the issue on Saturday.
Chavez presented Ahmadinejad with a Persian translation of a
book on Simon Bolivar, the 19th-century Venezuelan founding father.
In turn, Chavez received a book on the father of the 1979 Iranian
revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
"Our two revolutions are at heart the same," Chavez said,
comparing Iran's overthrow of the Shah with his self-styled
socialist movement, which was boosted this week by a slew of
Ahmadinejad also focused on injustice and poverty in the
developing world, laying the blame at Washington's door.
"All this is the work of the superpower," he said.
To emphasize their socialist credentials, the leaders said they
had agreed to establish a US$2 billion fund for projects they are
involved in across the developing world.
Chavez quoted Bolivian President Evo Morales as saying "Death to
American imperialism." When that was translated into Persian as the
"Death to America" catchphrase of Iranian demonstrations, the
Iranian delegation broke into applause.
On a more commercial level, Iranian oil company Petropars signed
deals to take on more work in certification, exploration and
oilfield development in Venezuela.
Officials also signed contracts to expand cooperation in
agriculture, construction and tourism.
In a media deal, the two nations drew up a partnership agreement
between their state news agencies, Venezuela's ABN and Iran's
(China Daily via agencies January 15, 2007)