Iran General NewsDiplomat: Iran opposes US base deal for Colombia

Diplomat: Iran opposes US base deal for Colombia

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ImageAP: Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that his country opposes an impending deal to expand the U.S. military's presence in Colombia.

The Associated Press

By CARLOS VALDEZ

ImageLA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that his country opposes an impending deal to expand the U.S. military's presence in Colombia.

Manouchehr Mottaki spoke in Bolivia on a tour of Latin America, where Tehran has cultivated closer ties — especially with leftist-led nations that are pushing for more distance from U.S. policy.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is against foreign military bases anywhere in the world," he said.

Colombian officials say the proposed 10-year lease agreement would give U.S. forces access to at least seven military bases to boost anti-drug efforts. Bogota says the deal would not push the number of American troops and civilian military contractors beyond 1,400 — the maximum currently permitted by U.S. law.

But the plan has nevertheless drawn opposition from a number of leaders nervous about a greater U.S. presence in the region.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mottaki compared it to U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

"The hegemonic policies (of the United States) in Latin America and Asia have completely failed," he said. "That's why we think all countries that want their freedom should work together to arrive at true justice in international relations."

Iran established diplomatic ties with Bolivia in late 2007 and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, visited last year. It has sold Bolivia tractors, built dairy plants and offered to help finance a state-owned cement factory.

Mottaki met Wednesday with Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, who told reporters there has been little movement on a cooperation accord signed in 2007. Bolivia's Senate, dominated by the opposition, has not ratified the draft agreement.

Mottaki also expressed support for a "new vision … that is rising in Latin America," an apparent reference to a growing group of leftist presidents.

Some of them, including Bolivia's Evo Morales and his close ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, are often at odds with Washington. Venezuela also has warm ties with Iran.

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