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Iranian leader launches tour of US foes in LatAm

Update: January, 09/2012 - 12:12

CARACAS – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, facing new sanctions over his nation's suspect nuclear programme, arrived in Venezuela on Sunday to start a five-day tour aimed at shoring up ties in Latin America.

The Iranian leader, who is travelling with several of his top ministers, was welcomed with military honours by Vice President Elias Jaua at the airport in Caracas, according to images broadcast on state television network VTV.

Ahmadinejad will meet fellow US foe and firebrand Venezuelan President Hugoo Chavez during a four-nation trip that coincides with rising global alarm over Tehran's reputed attempts to build an atomic weapon – a charge Tehran denies.

Chavez said earlier on Sunday that he hoped the Iranian leader would "rest a bit tonight and then tomorrow we will work all day reviewing co-operation agreements."

"We are not a threat to anyone. We have sovereign rights," the Venezuelan leader said on his Sunday radio and television program, in an implicit jab at the United States' stated concerns about Iran and Venezuela.

The remarks came in Chavez's first such weekly broadcast since he was diagnosed with cancer last year, which he later said was successfully treated. AFP

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