Morales Engages Iran on Advice from Venezuela; Chavez Encourages Energy Ties

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 20, 2007 | Go to article overview

Morales Engages Iran on Advice from Venezuela; Chavez Encourages Energy Ties


Byline: Martin Arostegui, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia - Bolivian President Evo Morales announced plans to establish diplomatic ties with Iran last week following the advice of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is working closely with the Iranian government to gain control of South America's energy resources, according to high-level analysts.

"Bolivia and Iran are two friendly and revolutionary countries, and we plan to strengthen ties" said Mr. Morales, who pointed out that other Latin American countries, including Chile, Colombia and Mexico, have diplomatic relations with Iran.

Earlier, Mr. Morales met with Iran's ambassador to Venezuela, Abdollah Zifan, who traveled to Bolivia to sign several cooperation and exchange agreements. Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca simultaneously visited Tehran to meet with his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki.

Mr. Zifan, who is reported to be the Iranian government's chief diplomat in Latin America, said "intensified cooperation with Venezuela in energy fields would also be applied in Bolivia through transfers of technology and know-how."

Bolivia's natural gas reserves, estimated at 200 trillion cubic feet, are South America's second largest after Venezuela and provide a critical source of energy to Brazil and Argentina, the continent's two largest economies.

Iran has signed joint industrial and commercial projects with Venezuela worth $17 billion, according to Mr. Chavez, who invited Mr. Morales and Mr. Zifan recently to join him in his weekly television chat show, "Hello President. …

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