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Iran's President to Visit Bolivia, Venezuela


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected in South America later this week following his visit to the United Nations.

The Iranian leader is scheduled to travel to Bolivia to meet with President Evo Morales and sign agreements on energy and industrial aid as the two leaders strengthen ties.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also is scheduled to meet with President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

Two months ago, President Chavez visited Iran and pledged to unite the Caribbean and the Persian Gulf. Mr. Chavez and Mr. Ahmadinejad also launched the construction of a joint petrochemical plant on Iran's Gulf coast.

Mr. Ahmadinejad praised what he called brotherly ties between Iran and Venezuela. Mr. Chavez said cooperation between countries like Iran and Venezuela can have an effective role in defeating imperialist policies - an apparent reference to the United States.

Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Chavez are fierce critics of the United States. President Ahmadinejad visited Venezuela earlier this year as part of a Latin America tour that took him to Nicaragua and Ecuador as well.

President Chavez has said Iran has the right to a peaceful atomic energy industry because it is a sovereign state. The United States and other Western nations accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran's president insists his country has the right to develop a nuclear program, which he says is for peaceful purposes.

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