United States sent a strong message to Latin American countries preparing to host Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying Washington’s policy regarding the Teheran regime is “very well known”.
“I believe those countries are well aware of the US position regarding Iran and, they are also well aware to current efforts with the European Union to increase international sanctions to Iran”, said the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland.
The closer links of Teheran with Latin America are interpreted as a escape door for the regime in the event that Washington and allies impose new stricter sanctions, and also an opportunity for trade with a region rich in natural resources.
President Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Guatemala and Ecuador beginning mid January.
Ms Nuland did not go further in her statements nor did she reveal if the State Department has contacted the hosting countries. But Iranian officials have said the country is very much interested in investing in Venezuela and Ecuador development projects.
Iran has significantly increased its diplomatic presence in the region having opened new embassies in Colombia, Nicaragua, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and Bolivia. It has also expanded its diplomatic staff in the embassies of Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela.
The Teheran regime has also intensified trade with the region, particularly with Venezuela. Trade with Brazil has soared 700% in the last decade and with Ecuador has jumped from 8 million dollars in 2007 to 168 million in 2008.