Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in talks aimed at furthering ties between the two U.S. adversaries.
Mr. Ahmadinejad welcomed the Venezuelan leader to the presidential palace Tuesday for his ninth visit. Iranian state-run media said the two leaders hope to "boost bilateral cooperation in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors." The visit is the latest stop on a 10-day international tour by the Venezuelan leader.
Mr. Chavez has been a strong supporter of Iran in its dispute with Western nations over its nuclear program. The U.S. and other countries accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear technology to produce weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
Both Iran and Venezuela also have been proponents of a so-called Southern Hemisphere alliance, to counterbalance northern nations, such as the United States and Britain.
Mr. Chavez already has visited Russia as part of his trip. Russia on Friday agreed to help Venezuela build its first nuclear power plant. Russia recently helped Iran complete construction on Tehran's first nuclear power plant.
Chavez's tour of the Middle East also includes a stop in Syria.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.