Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited Iran today. During a two-day visit, he will meet with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Maduro sat down with the Iranian Spanish-language news outlet HispanTV upon his arrival in the Iranian capital. During the interview, Maduro thanked Iran for successfully sending Venezuela fuel in defiance of US sanctions. The South American statesman said that one objective of the visit is to boost tourism between the two countries.
“Venezuela is an enchanting country with beaches so nice you can’t even imagine,” Maduro told HispanTV, going on to praise Iran’s historical sites and old civilization.
Maduro also appealed to Iranians by promising tourism packages featuring beaches, mountains and experiencing Latin American and Caribbean culture. He added that Venezuelans and others from across Latin America should take advantage of flights from the Venezuelan capital Caracas to Tehran.
Venezuela’s state-run Venezolana de Television reported in May that the flights will begin June 18. Maduro said that the flights are “ready.” Another Venezuelan official had previously said that direct flights between Caracas and Tehran would begin in March.
Maduro also said he would discuss scientific and economic cooperation with Iranian officials. A statement from his office further mentioned that the two countries are working toward a “multipolar world.”
Why it matters: Iran and Venezuela are close allies. Both are major oil producers and members of the Organization Petroleum Exporting Countries. Venezuela’s once-thriving oil industry has fallen into disarray and the country struggles to refine its oil into usable fuel. Iran has delivered fuel to Venezuela numerous times and transported Venezuelan oil for sale abroad in recent years.
Both Iran and Venezuela are heavily sanctioned by the United States, another reason for their friendship.
Venezuela is suffering from a debilitating economic crisis and Iranian tourists could help its hospitality industry. Iran removed coronavirus-related travel restrictions for foreigners in April.
In December, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Felix Plasencia said that the two countries would finalize a 20-year cooperation agreement during Maduro’s next visit.
Know more: The visit followed Maduro's trip to Turkey earlier this week. Maduro and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also discussed tourism cooperation, among other topics.