News / Americas

Ahmadinejad Lands in Cuba

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Cuba, the latest stop on his Latin American tour. Ahmadinejad landed in Havana Wednesday, where he was greeted by Cuban Vice President Esteban Lazo.

The Iranian leader is expected to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro as well as with Fidel Castro during the brief, one-day stop. He is also expected to give a speech at the University of Havana.

Cuba's state-run media reported Ahmadinejad made a "V" for victory sign with his fingers as he greeted officials.

The Iranian leader's visit comes as international pressure is mounting on Tehran over its nuclear program. Iran is facing growing sanctions over the program and tensions rose further Wednesday after a scientist who worked on Iran's nuclear program was killed in a bombing.

Iranian officials have blamed the attack on Israel and the United States.

President Ahmadinejad's visit to Cuba is part of a four-nation Latin America tour that has already taken him to Venezuela and Nicaragua, where he attended the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega. After Cuba, Ahmadinejad heads to Ecuador.

In recent years, the Iranian president has courted leftist, populist and anti-American Latin American leaders, particularly Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

U.S. officials have urged Latin American countries not to deepen their ties with Iran. The U.S. has called the tour a sign of desperation for Iran, which has been heavily sanctioned over its nuclear program.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman accused the Iranian government of being "desperate for friends" and of what she called "flailing around" to find new allies.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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