After Cozy Meeting With Obama, Hugo Chavez's Next Summit is With Iran's Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad wil visit with Chavez in Caracas on May 10, in an effort to improve “bilateral cooperation.”
An April 14 new item by the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) translated into English by BBC, reported that Chavez considers his relations with Iran “strategic for the development of his country.”
Chavez is the Venezuelan socialist strongman who called Obama “ignorant” as recently as January after the newest U.S. president called Chavez a "disruptive force in the region."
On numerous occasions., Chavez has also charged the U.S with being imperialist.
Nevertheless, Obama warmly greeted Chavez at the Americas Summit last Friday, the first time Chavez and an American president had met.
In answer to U.S. criticism about his greeting of Chavez, Obama said, “It’s unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having polite conversation with Mr. Chavez, we are endangering the strategic interest of the United States.”
“You would be hard pressed to paint a scenario in which the U.S. interests would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship with Venezuela,” he added.
Obama pointed out, “Venezuela is a country whose defense budget is probably one six-hundredths of the United States.”
However, Chavez has been nurturing a relationsip with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who is committed to the destruction of Israel.
On April 3, according to Iranian news reports, Chavez visited Iran to inaugurate a joint Iran-Venezuela bank and suggested that the two oil-producing nations could build a “new world order."
“The era of imperialism is over and it is in the process of crashing,” said Chavez “We have to build a new world order over the ruins.”
Chavez and Ahmadinejad created the Iran-Venezuela bank as an envisioned replacement for what Chavez calls “the main perpetrators of this [global financial] crisis” -- the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
On the same day, both presidents declared that they intended to further develop bilateral ties, according to IRNA.
IRNA reported: “President Ahmadinejhad said the two revolutionary countries enjoy unique and golden opportunities, adding while the capitalist system is facing a crisis, the two countries should expand their mutual ties to bring happiness to their nations.”
The IRNA report added: “President Chavez called for the strengthening of bilateral ties and underlined that there are plenty of capacities for cooperation between the two countries.”
Both presidents have visited each other on several occasions in the past in an effort to enhance their alliance against the U.S.
In November 2007, the Iranian newspaper E’temad reported: “Tehran and Caracas are continuing to deepen their bilateral relations at a time when because of the process of its nuclear case, Iran is faced with the threat of America and other western countries.”
“This very issue has led to the verbal supports of Hugo Chavez for Iran on many occasions,” the newspaper added. “Many are of the opinion that Venezuela was looking for [a] companion against America and Iran is seen as good companion for him in this difficult path.”
Despite the concern of the international community, especially the U.S and Israel, Iran has refused to halt development of nuclear technology that could empower it to build a nuclear weapon.
On April 15, the BBC reported that Ahmadinejad said: “The people of Iran are people of logic and dialogue. However the time for discussions over the nuclear program has come to an end and the clock will not go back.”
Ahmadinejad also referred to America as the as "Great Satan USA,” although he has indicated more openness toward the Obama Administration than the Bush Administration that preceded it.
U.S officials have also warned about Chavez facilitating the presence in Latin America of the Iranian backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the Senate on Feb. 12: “Chavez’s growing ties to Iran, coupled with Venezuela’s lax financial laws and border controls and widespread corruption have created a permissive environment for Hezbollah to exploit.”
Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who attended the recent Summit of the Americas, criticized the Chavez administration after the summit.
"Rather than choosing the path of freedom and opportunity, Chavez, (Nicaraguan President Daniel) Ortega and their mentors, the Castro brothers (Fidel and Raul Castro), have chosen the path of tyranny and repression,” the congressman said on April 20. “Millions of people live under their iron-fisted dictatorships with little or no hope of attaining freedom or building better lives.”
CNSNews.com previously reported that the U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights in Venezuela cited the Venezuelan government of “numerous human rights violations under Chavez's rule”--including the repression of the opposition to the Chavez administration.