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Iran-Venezuela ties under US scrutiny

Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this week pledged to 'expand ties' with Venezuela, which is under US scrutiny for shipping oil allegedly in violation of sanctions.

By Jasmina KelemenCorrespondent / March 18, 2011

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures while speaking at the opening ceremony of the Wars for Peace conference in Tehran on March 12. This week Ahmadinejad met with Venezuela’s ambassador in Tehran to 'expand ties' with the country.

Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

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Caracas, Venezuela

All the attention Libya's Muammar Qaddafi has received in recent weeks from Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez seems to have left his other best friend forever, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, feeling a bit left out.

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This week the Iranian president met with Venezuela’s ambassador in Tehran to stress his eagerness for even closer relations, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

“Expansion of Iran-Venezuela ties in all domains helps peace, stability, and security in the world,” said Mr. Ahmadinejad.

The two “brother” nations promised to strengthen their state-run news coverage of each other but did not mention, at least publicly, the billions of dollars worth of energy agreements inked last year that are now under scrutiny by the US State Department.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently told the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that the US would consider punitive actions if it was determined that Venezuela, America's fifth-largest oil supplier, had violated sanctions against Iran.

Venezuelan exports to Iran in question

Ms. Clinton’s comments were in response to documents submitted by Rep. Connie Mack (R) of Florida that allege Venezuelan national oil company PDVSA is sending gasoline to Iran in violation of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA).

Mr. Mack is among America's most vocal critics of Venezuela. Earlier this year, he referred to President Chávez as a “thugocrat,” calling for nothing less than a “full-scale economic embargo.”

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