Socialist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held a one-on-one meeting yesterday in New York in anticipation for the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Venezuela, desperate for financial aid, has turned to its longtime ally to help with housing projects.
President Rouhani tweeted a photo yesterday of the two leaders in conversation, describing the exchange via hashtag as “constructive engagement”:
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) September 23, 2014
Iranian media heralded the meeting as a success. Iran’s PressTV reports that Rouhani took the occasion to call for as closely-bound bilateral relations with the Latin American nation as possible: “Iran and Venezuela pursue important and common goals. So, the two countries’ ties should be expanded at the highest level.”
According to the PressTV report, Maduro– whose government has been known to support members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia terrorist group– also asserted that “terrorists are the real enemies of humanity and added that certain countries have equipped terrorist groups with arms and weapons and now intend to battle them.”
Infobae notes that this meeting follows up a number of diplomatic exchanges between the two nations, one particularly beneficial to the impoverished OPEC nation– a deal in which Iran would help Venezuela grow its fledgling cement industry. Last week, Iranian officials visited the Cerro Azul plant in Monagas, Venezuela, along with other international diplomats. There, the conclusion of the eighth Mixed Iran-Venezuela Mixed Committee, diplomat Mohammad Reza Nemazadeh committed on behalf of his nation to help with the project after numerous appeals from the Venezuelan government.
In exchange, Venezuela has vowed unconditional support for the agenda of the Iranian government internationally. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramírez opened the summit with a promise that Iran “can count on Venezuela’s permanent support at any international forum, in defense of the principles of friendship and cooperation.”
Venezuela and Iran have long had close ties since the establishment of the Hugo Chávez dictatorship, which sought to befriend any perceived enemy of the United States. Chávez and Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were so close that the latter said upon Chávez’s death that he believed Chávez would rise from the dead with Jesus and the Hidden Imam. Given the delicate international situation in the Middle East currently, however, it is even more advantageous for Iran, positioned between the Islamic State and the West, to have a reliable (and reliably needy) partner in Latin America.