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Tehran Ships Food To Venezuela To Establish Country's First Iranian Supermarket

By RFE/RL June 22, 2020

An Iranian cargo ship was expected to dock in Venezuela on June 21 with food that will stock the first Iranian supermarket in the South American country, Iran's embassy in Caracas said.

The delivery marks "another success in friendly and fraternal relations between two countries," officials at the embassy announced in a tweet on June 20, which provided no further details.

The food shipment comes after Iran supplied 1.5 million barrels of fuel to Venezuela last month, helping to alleviate a shortage amid a collapse of refinery operations and tightening sanctions by the United States.

Venezuela, once South America's top oil-producer, is suffering from a gasoline shortage amid a deep economic crisis.

Iran also provided Venezuela with key ingredients needed to restart refineries and resume producing its own gasoline.

Both Iran and Venezuela are under U.S. sanctions, and Washington has warned governments, seaports, shippers, and insurers that they could face measures if they aid the tankers.

President Donald Trump softened his tone toward Venezuela slightly in an interview last week in which he said he would consider meeting Maduro.

"I would maybe think about that," Trump said in the interview on June 19 with the news website Axios.

He expressed an openness to meeting Maduro once before, in 2018, and the Venezuelan leader also made overtures for talks, but nothing materialized and the United States instead added extensive sanctions that have added to the South American country's economic woes.

He also indicated waning confidence in Juan Guaido, who was recognized by the United States and other Western countries as the legitimate leader of Venezuela in January 2019 after what most consider a sham election that kept Maduro in power.

While the United States has maintained pressure on the Maduro regime, largely through sanctions, Maduro has retained the support of the military as well as the backing of Russia, Cuba, China, and Iran.

Maduro earlier this month said he would visit Iran shortly to sign cooperation agreements in energy and other sectors after Iran sent the oil, which arrived in five tankers.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and Axios

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/tehran-ships-food- to-venezuela-to-establish-country-s-first- iranian-supermarket/30683699.html

Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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