Iran and Venezuela sign 20-year cooperation agreement

Iran and Venezuela, oil producers struggling with crippling US sanctions, signed a 20-year cooperation plan in Tehran on Saturday.

The agreement includes cooperation in the fields of oil, petrochemicals, defence, agriculture, tourism and culture. [source: Getty]

Iran and Venezuela on Saturday signed a 20-year cooperation agreement between the two allies subject to US sanctions during a visit to the Islamic Republic of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The signing of the agreement “shows the determination of senior officials of the two countries for the development of relations in different fields”, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said.

Maduro, speaking at a joint press conference in Tehran, said the cooperation covered the energy and financial sectors, as well as “working together on defense projects”.

Maduro also met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said “resistance” is the way to deal with US pressure.

“The conclusion that can be drawn from the resistance and success of the two nations of Iran and Venezuela is that the only way to withstand the pressure is to stand up and resist,” Khamenei said.

Khamenei welcomed the deal and called for “stronger” cooperation between Tehran and Caracas, according to a statement posted on his official website.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has shown that it takes risks in times of danger and takes the hand of its friends,” he added.

Alongside Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey, Iran is one of Venezuela’s main allies. And like Venezuela, it is subject to severe US sanctions.

“Venezuela went through difficult years but the determination of the people, officials and the president of the country was that they had to resist the sanctions,” Raisi said at the joint press conference.

“It is a good sign that proves to everyone that the resistance will work and will force the enemy to retreat,” added the Iranian president.

In addition to the 20-year agreement signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries, “Iran and Venezuela signed documents on cooperation in the political, cultural, tourist, economic, oil and petrochemical fields”, said the official news agency. IRNA said.

“We have important cooperation projects between Iran and Venezuela in the fields of energy, petrochemicals, oil, gas and refineries,” Maduro said.

From July 18, direct flights would operate between Caracas and Tehran “to promote tourism and union between our countries”, he said, adding that “Venezuela is open to receive tourists from Iran “.

The Iranian president said direct flights would pave the way for “strengthened trade and economic relations, as well as bringing the two nations closer together”.

The two presidents participated via video conference in a ceremony marking the delivery of the second of four Iranian-built tankers to Venezuela, IRNA reported.

Ties between the two oil producers were strong under late Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez and were further strengthened under his successor Maduro.

In May 2022, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji met Maduro during an official visit to Venezuela, which has the largest proven reserves of crude in the world.

Owji also held talks with his Venezuelan counterpart Tareck El Aissami on how best to deal with US economic sanctions.

The oil minister’s trip to Venezuela came just weeks after a surprise visit by US officials following the sharp rise in world oil prices triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The US delegation even held a hushed meeting with Maduro, whose very legitimacy as President Washington disputes.

Iran is a major oil producer and said in April its production capacity had returned to levels seen before President Donald Trump reimposed US sanctions in 2018.

In 2020, Venezuela received two shipments of fuel and derivatives from Iran to help address chronic domestic shortages.

Iran is the third country visited by Maduro this week after trips to Turkey and Algeria.