|26/05/2012 | Bolivia: Iran's Newest Friend in Latin America
Fars News Staff
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has long been Iran's greatest ally in the Western Hemisphere, but Iran is now finding a new best friend in Latin America - and fast, a commentary said.
Since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad first visited Bolivia in 2007, the relationship between Ahmadinejad and Bolivian President Evo Morales has grown. The two even played soccer together in Tehran not too long ago. But Morales and Ahmadinejad's fancy footwork aside, it's clear that the relationship between Bolivia and Iran is deepening, Jessica Zuckerman said in a commentary.
Last May, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi visited the city of Warnes, Bolivia, for the inauguration of the new College for Defense of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA). ALBA, the eight-member economic and geopolitical bloc founded by Chavez and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, has long had close relations with Iran. But this time around, Iran seems to have taken on more than a mere observer role, as it is believed to have put up at least a portion of the money to establish the new ALBA school.
And if the financial support weren't enough, experts also believe that Iran has sent anywhere from 50 to 300 trainers to the school in Bolivia.
But that's not the half of it. As American Foreign Policy Council Vice President Ilan Berman explains, "Iran's involvement in the ALBA school serves as a microcosm of the Iranian-Bolivian relationship writ large." Berman goes on to explain, "Indeed, regional experts now estimate that Bolivia could end up becoming as significant as Venezuela in Iran".
Poised to offer Iran diplomatic cover and international support, it seems no question that Bolivia stands ready and waiting as a friend to Iran.
Iran has in recent years expanded friendly ties with Latin America, specially in economic, trade and industrial fields.
Since taking office in 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expanded Iran's cooperation with many Latin American states, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba.
The strong and rapidly growing ties between Iran and Latin America have raised eyebrows in the US and its western allies since Tehran and Latin nations have forged an alliance against the imperialist and colonialist powers and are striving hard to reinvigorate their relations with the other independent countries which pursue a line of policy independent from the US.
Fars News Agency (Iran)
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