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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS -
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Venezuela Chavez Says Iran Has Right to Atomic Energy

Posted in the database on Friday, March 11th, 2005 @ 14:40:21 MST (1259 views)
by Alex Kennedy    Bloomberg  

Untitled Document March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, hosting Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in Caracas, said Iran can count on his support in its confrontation with the U.S. over its nuclear program.

``Iran has every right, like many other countries, to develop its atomic energy, to continue their investigations in this field.'' Chavez said today in a televised speech from the presidential palace in Caracas with Khatami by his side ``We're against the attempt to deny the Iranians this right.''

Khatami, who is on a three-day visit to Venezuela, earlier signed agreements covering oil, natural gas, petrochemicals, housing and shipping. Iran is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' second-largest producer while Venezuela is the third largest.

The agreements with Iran come as Chavez, who two days ago in France repeated his charge that the U.S. is plotting to kill him, seeks to diversify Venezuela's oil industry away from U.S. sales through contracts with China and Argentina. The U.S. currently buys 60 percent of Venezuela's exports.

Khatami, speaking on television before Chavez, said Venezuela and Iran are ``two nations who have decided to be free.'' He said both would resist ``any act of aggression.''

Chavez was ousted in 2002 for two days in a coup, which the former lieutenant colonel says the U.S. planned. The State Department denied involvement in the coup. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said earlier this week Chavez's allegation about a planned assassination was ``a completely ludicrous charge.''

'Brother Nation''

The U.S. has accused Iran of disguising its nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment, as a cover for building a nuclear bomb. The U.S. today agreed to join Europe in offering Iran economic incentives to end its nuclear weapons program, Bush administration officials said. Previously, U.S. President George Bush said he would not rule out military options in the future to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.

``Before the threats of the U.S. government against the brother nation of Iran, you, brothers, can count on all our support, all our love, and our all solidarity,'' Chavez said.



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