27 April 2010
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frias has denied an American report that Iranian special forces had an increasing presence in his country. The report was prepared by the US Defense Department and sent to Congress earlier this month and says the élite Qods Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard had a growing Latin American presence, "particularly in Venezuela."
"Look at what they are saying," Chávez said during a ceremony carried on live television. "If the US applies sanctions to Iran, these forces that are here – something that is absolutely false – could then attack American territory or interests with terrorist acts." Chávez claimed the accusation was part of a tactic of intimidation against his government, calling it “an open threat by the government of the United States against Venezuela once again, using infamy and lies.”
Chávez and Ahmadinejad, both vocally anti-American, have fostered ever-closer political and business ties between their OPEC member nations. Venezuela supports Iran's nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim paid a two-day visit to Tehran, where he also discussed Iran’s nuclear program with leaders of the Islamic republic. Iranian news agencies reported that Amorim had told Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani that new UN sanctions against Iran would be "negative" and "unfair."
On Sunday, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger had held a meeting with Mottaki in Vienna. At a joint press conference with the Iranian foreign minister, Spindelegger declared: "I hope it will not have to come to sanctions and that Iran is ready to cooperate with the international community.” Outside the meeting venue, the group ‘Stop the Bomb’ held a rally protesting the meeting.
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