Ahmadinejad, Chavez want to jointly tackle global economic crisis

Ahmadinejad, Chavez want to jointly tackle global economic crisisTehran  - The presidents of Iran and Venezuela after talks Thursday said they had decided to increase cooperation in tackling the global economic crisis, Iran's state television network IRIB reported.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said after his first meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that the Tehran summit would see the drafting of a bilateral
10-year plan for the crisis.

"The Iran-Venezuela relations opened a new united revolutionary front which will not only serve the two countries' interests but have also become a model for promoting peace and brotherhood in the world," Ahmadinejad said.

He added that there would be no hurdle in expanding bilateral ties with Venezuela, especially since the two governments had a shared stance on international issues and "would be besides each other until ultimate victory is gained."

The IRIB, on its website, also quoted Chavez as saying that the current global crisis, that was "spreading like cancer throughout the world," could also be the best opportunity for Iran and Venezuela to boost their economies and further develop.

The two presidents also reportedly plan to open a joint development bank with an start-up capital of 200 million dollars that would later be increased to 1.6 billion dollars.

Ahmadinejad and Chavez, who both oppose the United States, have called for a new world order and reform of the United Nations Security Council.

Iran and Venezuela have in the last three and a half years reportedly signed 186 agreements, on among others things a joint bank and joint fund for industrial projects, during numerous meetings between the two presidents. Bilateral trade has reached an estimated 4.6 billion dollars.

Chavez, who has made seven trips to Iran, once described the country as his "second home. He supports Iran's controversial programmes and has defended the Islamic state's right to pursue peaceful nuclear projects.

In 2006, Tehran honoured Chavez with the High Medal of the Islamic Republic of Iran for his contribution to improved bilateral ties in recent years.

Some observers however see the role of Venezuela - and other Latin American countries - in Islamic Iran as insignificant, and say economic agreements and trade with Venezuela does not play a substantial role in Iran's economy.(dpa)