Iran pushes growing businesses with Venezuela as a right

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Nicolas Maduro

Nicolas Maduro

Iran’s ambassador to Venezuela said Wednesday that the two nations, both under increasing US pressure, are exercising their right to trade freely in a deal that includes shipping the South American nation five tankers of gasolene to relieve deep shortages.

Ambassador Hojjatollah Soltani said international conventions protect the expanding relationship between the two US-sanctioned nations.

“This relationship between Iran and Venezuela doesn’t threaten anybody. It’s not a danger to anyone,” Soltani said in a meeting with reporters at the Iranian embassy in Caracas.

The five Iranian tankers now on the high seas are expected to start arriving in Venezuela in the coming days. They’re carrying gasolene to help alleviate days-long lines at service stations even in Caracas, which had normally been immune to shortages as the capital and seat of political power.

While Venezuela sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves, its oil production has plummeted in the last two decades, which critics blame on corruption and mismanagement under socialist rule. Recent US sanctions designed to force socialist President Nicolás Maduro from power have also impacted Venezuela’s production.

Trump’s National Security Council tweeted Monday that few financial lifelines remain for Maduro. The US is among nearly 60 nations that recognise opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

“Our maximum pressure campaign, which includes financial and economic sanctions, will continue until Maduro’s tyrannical hold ends,” the National Security Council said. “The humanitarian and economic crisis endured by Venezuelans is the fault of one person – Maduro.”

In addition to sending the fuel-laden tankers, Iran has flown in shipments of a chemical needed to restart an ageing gasolene refinery. For Iran, the business ties represent a way to bring money into its cash-starved nation and apply its own pressure on Washington.

Ambassador Soltani denied claims that Iranian planes returned from Venezuela loaded with gold to pay for Iran’s support. He accused Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of spreading “fake news” to undermine the deal, which the ambassador called a “win-win” for both Venezuela and Iran.

“They can sanction whoever they want,” Soltani said. “Iran will always advance.”

Source » jamaicagleaner

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