By Deisy Buitrago
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday he will soon visit Iran to finalize new agreements on cooperation with the Middle Eastern country, which has become Venezuela’s top ally in boosting oil output amid U.S. sanctions.
Venezuela and Iran have strengthened their ties since last year.
Maduro’s government has received vital equipment for its oil industry from Iran, which in return has received crude and other primary resources from the South American country. Iran has been crucial for Venezuela’s rising oil production in 2021.
“I am going to Teheran very soon, for a visit that President (Ebrahim) Raisi offered me, so that we meet in person, to hold conversations and sign new agreements … and speed up processes of cooperation,” Maduro said during an interview with satellite news broadcaster Al Mayadeen in Spanish, which was later broadcast on Venezuelan state television.
Maduro said he has had two telephone conversations with Iran’s president, adding that they have agreed to work on new plans, without providing details. He also did not give a date for the visit but described the two countries as “fighters.”
In 2022, Venezuela will also look to reactivate means of cooperation with Arab countries, Maduro added, saying that “they love us in the Arab world, I know that Arab governments and peoples love Venezuela.”
The tightening of U.S. sanctions since 2019 has affected Venezuela’s ability to sell crude and import fuel, which has exacerbated gasoline shortages across the country.
(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Oliver Griffin)