Thursday, June 15, 2006

Iran to Invest $9 Billion in Venezuela By: Michael Fox –

Caracas, Venezuela, June 14, 2006—The Iranian Vice-Minister of Light Industry, Mohsen Shaterzadeh, announced this week that the Islamic Republic of Iran is planning to invest more than $9 billion in 125 development projects in Venezuela as part of bilateral cooperation agreements between the two countries.

Shaterzadeh declared that they had already signed contracts worth over a billion dollars, to build 2,500 homes and the Cerro Azul Cement Factory, in the Punceres Municipality in the Venezuelan state of Monagas.

Shaterzadeh made the declarations on his visit to Cerro Azul, where Cerro Azul Cements President Rafael Lugo explained that they have high expectations for the employment the factory will be able to generate.

"In the construction phase we will employ 350 direct workers, while the number of indirect workers will be around a thousand. Once in operation, the plant will have a capacity of employing on the order of 200 people directly and will give work indirectly to another 600 people," he said.

Shaterzadeh added that future agreements are being proposed in the areas of infrastructure and productive technology with raw material imported from Iran. The Iranian ambassador to Venezuela, Ahmad Sobhani, who accompanied Shaterzadeh in Monagas also stated that Iran is studying a project whereby tractors and other vehicles can be sent to Venezuela. Both nations created a joint development fund last February worth $200 million.


The Syrian Vice-Foreign Minister, Faisal Megdad, was also in Venezuela this past week. On Monday, Megdad met with Venezuela Vice President José Vicente Rangel, whom he told that Syria would support and promote Venezuela in its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

"There are many countries in the world that support Venezuela in its bid to join the United Nations Security Council. In Asia And Africa there is huge support for the Venezuelan Government, particularly in Arab countries," the diplomat said.

Five of the Security Council's ten rotating seats are up this year and one is traditionally reserved for a Latin American country. Venezuela’s largest competitor for the seat is Guatemala, which has never sat on the council before and which is being supported by the U.S.

According to Union Radio, Megdad also proposed strengthening social and economic relations between Venezuela and Syria.

"Syria is well known in grain production, in cotton and derivatives, olive oil processing, cloth production in general, with which we compete with many countries of the world, we could also maintain a petroleum and petrol-chemical exchange, which we hope to materialize in future meetings." Megdad said.

Venezuela, Syria and Cuba where the only three countries to support Iran in last February's vote before the International Atomic Energy Agency to report Iran to the UN Security Council for its nuclear aspirations. Venezuela has held that any country has the right to conduct it's own civilian nuclear energy program for peaceful means.