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Iran, Venezuela Plan 20-Year Cooperation Pact as Maduro Hails Joint Role in Challenging US Hegemony

Sputnik News

Ilya Tsukanov

Notwithstanding ideological differences, the vast geographic distance between them and problems stemming from crushing US sanctions, Iran and Venezuela enjoy strategic ties, with relations going back to the 2000s and the close personal rapport between former Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the late Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela and Iran will sign a new 20-year cooperation agreement, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced.

"We are building a map of cooperation that we are going to sign [Saturday], establishing plans and strategies for 20 years of development of Iran-Venezuela relations," Maduro said, speaking to HispanTV.

The Venezuelan leader said the new stage of relations between the two countries will include expanded cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, energy, tourism, transportation, culture, communication, health and education.

Pointing to some specifics, Maduro mentioned the plan to open a direct air route between Caracas and Tehran, and plans for new trade cooperation, including the sale of Venezuelan coffee to Iran. Maduro called on Iranian businesses to make further investments in his country, pointing to what he said was the positive experience of the first Iranian supermarkets set up in Venezuela back in 2020.

Maduro also emphasized that the two countries, together, have been able to face down the sanctions slapped on them by the US and its allies.

"Our love, our friendship, our brotherhood, knows no distance. Mainly, when during these 20 years we have been fighting colonialism, racism, imperialism. We are two sister revolutions. We fight for a better world to respect human rights, international rights, a world without dominant countries," Maduro said.

"The world of the dominant powers of Europe, of the military, economic and political world dominated by the US - it's over, it's history," Maduro added, suggesting that cooperation between Caracas and Tehran show other countries through cooperation that "a new world, a different world, is possible."

"Iran and Venezuela are at the forefront of the emergence of the new geopolitics. And as is often the case, whoever is at the forefront gets hit the hardest. Nevertheless, we are shaping that new world," he said.

Maduro also revealed the importance of Iranian energy support during the crucial years of 2019 and 2020, when the US and its allies imposed a blockade on Venezuelan oil. "The blockade and the discrimination of our oil sales meant that we went from having $54 billion of revenue one year, to only $1 billion the next year. A revenue catastrophe. It was meant to shake the social fabric of the nation and lead to violence to justify an imperialist military intervention," he said, noting that the decision forced the country into a "war economy."

Now, he said, Venezuela is "in the first stage of a true economic recovery, which makes us very optimistic about the future of our country."

Iran sent 1.5 million barrels-worth of gasoline and fuel additives to Venezuela in May 2020 aboard five tankers as the country's refineries ground to a halt. "The arrival of the Iranian oil tankers was an extraordinary event and much celebrated by the Venezuelans," Maduro said, recalling that no foreign companies had "dared to come to our country for fear of US persecution" at the time.

Maduro arrived in Tehran for an official visit on Friday as part of a wider tour of the region, which saw him travel to Turkey and Algeria earlier this week. Maduro's visit to Iran will include a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iranian-Venezuelan ties can be characterized as a strategic alliance, and include cooperation in everything from defence and trade to mutual support for one another in various international venues. Relations have flourished since the mid-2000s.

© Sputnik

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