Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is making his first official visit to Iran this week in a bid to expand trade.

Officials say President Correa will arrive in Tehran Friday to discuss new markets for some of his country's goods, including shrimp, bananas and flowers.

Both countries are members of the oil cartel OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), but have had little contact diplomatically.

In his weekly radio address, the leftist president defended his trip, saying he would not avoid diplomatic ties with Iran just because the United States has "blacklisted" it. He added that nobody would prevent Ecuador from looking out for "its own interests."

Iran and the West have had a contentious relationship over the country's nuclear program and other issues.

Iran says its nuclear program is aimed at producing energy. The United States and Europe fear Iran is secretly trying to build a nuclear bomb.

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