Venezuela and Iran agree to expand oil ties despite US sanctions

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and Iran’s hardline president signed a 20-year cooperation agreement on Saturday, a day after Maduro praised the Islamic Republic for sending fuel his country needed. badly needed despite US sanctions.

In an interview with President Maduro after he arrived in Tehran for a two-day visit, Iranian state media reported late Friday that Maduro had welcomed Iran’s decision to send water tankers to his greedy country. of energy.

“The delivery of oil from Tehran to Caracas has been a great help to the Venezuelan people,” he said.

Maduro’s first visit to Iran comes amid tensions in the Middle East following the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. US sanctions and rising global food prices are choking Iran’s struggling economy, putting additional strain on its government and people.

READ MORE: US to ease some economic sanctions against Venezuela

A high-ranking political and economic delegation from Venezuela – which, like Iran, is under heavy US sanctions – is accompanying Maduro on his visit, following an invitation from hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi.

At a joint press conference on Saturday, Raisi and Maduro signed a 20-year deal to expand ties in the oil and petrochemical industries, the military and the economy.

English-language Iranian PressTV quoted Maduro ahead of the press conference as saying the two would meet to discuss “the need to properly inform the Iranian and Venezuelan nations about the sanctions war and find ways to counter them firmly.” .

Maduro said Venezuela and Iran are united by “a common vision” on international issues and are both victims of coercive measures by the United States and its allies.

“Caracas and Tehran have shaped the strategy of (a) resistance economy and are working to expand it,” he said.

Maduro is touring Eurasia after President Joe Biden decided not to invite him to the Summit of the Americas, which started on Thursday. His stops earlier this week included Algeria and Turkey.

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Turkey is one of the few places in the world – Russia and Iran being among them – where Maduro is welcome amid US sanctions against his country.

Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua were not invited to the summit by the Biden administration due to their authoritarianism and human rights abuses. This decision led the Mexican president to announce that he would not participate.

Raisi praised Maduro as a leader “who demonstrated a policy of fighting against imperialism and achieved a good position by overcoming sanctions and threats”.

Maduro announced that a direct flight between Tehran and Caracas would start next month.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency later reported that Iran had delivered the Aframax-2 tanker to Venezuelan officials, the second of four ships Iran had been commissioned to build for the South American country.

Amid rising tensions with the West, Iran has begun removing 27 surveillance cameras from nuclear sites across the country, the head of the UN atomic watchdog said on Thursday. He warned it could deal a “fatal blow” to the tattered nuclear deal as Tehran enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels.

The development came a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors blamed Tehran for failing to provide ‘credible information’ on manufactured nuclear materials found at three undeclared sites in the country. .

Iran’s currency fell to its lowest value ever after the censorship – at 326,300 rials to the dollar.

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