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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Monday, January 15, 2007


Madrid, 15 Jan. (AKI) - Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is continuing his tour of Latin America and travelling to Ecuador on Monday where he is scheduled to participate in the swearing in ceremony of newly elected president Rafael Correa. Since beginning his Latin American tour in Venezuela on Saturday, Ahmadinejad has met his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez and then president Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua.

Nicaragua and Iran have signed agreements in a number of sectors to "strengthen friendship and cooperation between the two countries" said Ortega. The agreements reportedly concern energy, trade, the economy and infrastructures.

The two countries would in particular like to cooperate in the production of cement and in the energy sector, including oil and gas, Ortega was quoted as saying by Nicaraguan daily La Prensa.

Despite Managua's request, Tehran has so far refused to cancel Nicaragua's 152 million dollar debt and the Nicaraguan president did not say whether the accords signed over the weekend with Iran will further indebt the Latin American country.

Apart from its commercial objectives, Ahmadinejad's tour of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador is politically motivated to strengthen relations with countries in the Iran-led anti US international alliance. Since his election as president in June 2005, Ahmadinejad has forged close alliances with Latin American countries led by anti-US governments including Cuba along with Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

Ahmadinejad visited Nicaragua for the first time this weekend and the two countries are soon scheduled to formally inaugurate diplomatic relations and open embassies in the allied country's capital.
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