Ahmadinejad departs Tehran for Latin American tour

Iran Materials 19 June 2012 00:48 (UTC +04:00)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embarked a tour of Latin America on Monday night which includes stops in Bolivia, Brazil for the Rio+20 summit and Venezuela, IRNA reported.

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi, Vice-President in Executive Affairs Hamid Baghaei and Vice-President for International Affairs Ali Sa'eidlou accompany President Ahmadinejad during the trip.

Ahmadinejad is scheduled to arrive in Bolivia on June 19 to meet with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales before attending the summit on sustainable development Rio+20, in Brazil.

Iranian president, who left Tehran on June 18, will stay briefly in La Paz, where he will review bilateral relations with Morales.

The Iranian president will stay two days in Brazil, where he will meet with other world leaders on the sidelines of the summit.

At the end of the Rio+20 Summit, Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit Venezuela, where he will meet with President Hugo Chavez, who has travelled to Tehran on nine occasions.

Iran and Bolivia established diplomatic relations in 2009, opening diplomatic missions in both nations. In October 2010, the two countries signed five new memorandums to strengthen economic cooperation.

Iran has been seeking to expand relations with Latin American countries over the past decades, describing the endeavor as one of its major foreign policy strategies.

The country's rising popularity in Latin America has raised major concerns in the United States, which regards the region as its strategic backyard and traditional sphere of influence.

Leaders in all four Latin American nations have enhanced diplomatic and trade ties with Iran in recent years while their relations with the United States have been downgraded amid popular demands for an end to dependence on Washington.

For several decades, Iran has made strategic attempts to increase its presence and activity in Latin America. With six permanent diplomatic offices in the region, including Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, and Cuba, as well as temporary envoys in Chile and Colombia, Iran is gearing up for the establishment of a stronghold in the continent.