Iran General NewsChavez to visit Qatar, Iran and Japan

Chavez to visit Qatar, Iran and Japan

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ImageAFP: President Hugo Chavez said Saturday he will visit the Middle East, including Iran, and possibly Japan after he attends the summit of Arab and South American countries in Doha on March 31.

ImageCARACAS (AFP) — President Hugo Chavez said Saturday he will visit the Middle East, including Iran, and possibly Japan after he attends the summit of Arab and South American countries in Doha on March 31.

"We're going to Doha, to the summit, and afterward to Iran and other countries, possibly Japan," Chavez told a cabinet meeting, a portion of which was televised.

The visits, he said, would showcase Venezuela's "diplomacy deployment." He did not provide exact dates for his travels.

Chavez's visit to Tokyo in early April was announced earlier this week by Japan's Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The first summit of Arab and South American nations was held in Brasilia in 2005 and the third is scheduled for Lima in 2011.

Considered Latin America's preeminent leftist leader, Chavez has maintained rocky relations with the United States but close links to Tehran, which he last visited in November.

Chavez is among only a handful of state leaders who support Iran's controversial nuclear energy program, suspected by some of serving as a cover to produce nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Venezuela expelled the ambassador of Iran's arch-foe Israel from Caracas in January to protest the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip that left over 1,300 Palestinians dead.

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