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9 January 2012 - 20:44

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in the Venezuelan capital Caracas on the first leg of his tour of several Latin American countries.

President Ahmadinejad was welcomed by Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua upon his arrival at Maiquetia Airport in Caracas .

Ahmadinejad is scheduled to meet with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other senior Venezuelan officials. He will also sign several contracts and inaugurate a number of projects.

Earlier on Sunday, Chavez said he hoped the Iranian president would "rest a bit tonight and then tomorrow we will work all day reviewing cooperation agreements."

Ahmadinejad's stay in Venezuela will be followed with a trip to Nicaragua to attend the inauguration of its recently re-elected leader Daniel Ortega.

During his five-day trip, President Ahmadinejad will also visit Cuba and Ecuador and hold talks with senior officials of both countries on the further expansion of bilateral relations.

The US warned Latin American states on Friday against further expansion of diplomatic and business ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressing concerns over “Iran's outreach to the Western Hemisphere.”

“We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties, with Iran,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Leaders in all the four Latin American countries have in recent years built up diplomatic and trade ties with Iran, while their relations with the United States have been greatly reduced amid popular demands for an end to dependence on Washington.
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News ID 181357