Caracas: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, facing new sanctions over his nation's suspect nuclear programme, on Monday arrived in Venezuela to start a five-day tour aimed at shoring up ties in Latin America.
The Iranian leader was welcomed with military honours at the international airport in Caracas, according to images broadcast on state television network VTV.
Ahmadinejad will meet fellow US foe and firebrand Venezuelan President Hugo 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 yesterday he hoped the Iranian leader would "rest a bit tonight and then tomorrow we will work all day reviewing cooperation 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's 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.
Ahmadinejad's talks with Chavez will be followed tomorrow with a trip to Nicaragua to attend the inauguration of its recently re-elected leader Daniel Ortega. Stops in Cuba and Ecuador will round off the tour.
First Published: Monday, January 09, 2012, 21:36