Iran and Venezuela, oil-producing countries subject to US sanctions, signed today, Tuesday, a strategic cooperation agreement for a period of 20 years, in the presence of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the capital, Caracas.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi confirmed Monday in Venezuela, the first stop of a mini-tour to Latin America, the “friendship” between the two countries in the face of “common enemies”.
Raisi said during a joint press conference with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the presidential palace in Caracas that the two countries have “common interests, views and enemies.”
He added, “The Iranian people have proven their friendship with the Venezuelan people over the past years and have always shown that they are the friend of their difficult days.”
The two countries announced the signing of 25 cooperation agreements.
Raisi, who received the Medal of the Liberator, the highest award granted by Venezuela, declared his intention to increase the volume of exchanges between the two countries from 3 billion dollars a year now to 10 billion in the first stage and then later to 20 billion dollars a year.
For his part, Maduro declared that “Iran plays a first class role, as one of the largest emerging powers in the new world,” criticizing former US President Donald Trump. “We are on the right side of history,” he said. “Together we will be invincible.”
Maduro added that he “is always asking the Iranian president for more support in order to develop strong scientific and technical cooperation.”
Iran is one of Maduro’s main international allies. The two countries, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are subject to US sanctions aimed at undermining their economies.
In 2020, Iran sent 1.5 million barrels of fuel and food supplies, in order to restart Venezuelan refineries, which were suspended in light of a serious economic crisis. Since then, Washington has accused Tehran of circumventing the sanctions.
Raisi is then expected to travel to Cuba and Nicaragua, the two other allies in the confrontation with the United States.
Raisi said, in a statement to IRNA before leaving Tehran, that “this visit may be a turning point in improving the level of relations between us and Latin American countries,” adding, “During the past two years, our cooperation with these countries has developed in the fields of industry, agriculture, science, technology, and medicine.”
The last visit of an Iranian president to Cuba and Venezuela dates back to 2016, when former President Hassan Rouhani visited them before his participation in the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
In January 2007, his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was received in Nicaragua. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in February defended Iran’s right to possess a nuclear weapon.