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Author Topic:   Castro visits Iran as two nations coordinate against common US "enemy"
posted May 07, 2001 09:45     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

TEHRAN, May 6 (AFP) - Cuban President Fidel Castro begins a historic visit to Iran on Monday aimed at increasing cooperation between two nations both hit by a unilateral embargo imposed by their "common enemy," the United States. Castro, making his first trip to the Islamic republic, is to hold talks with the Iranian leadership, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mohammad Khatami and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

As a sign of the importance Tehran is according the visit by Havana's colourful supremo, Khatami is expected to welcome Castro at Tehran airport and not, as is usual with visiting heads of state, at the presidential palace.

"This visit is ecoonomically and politically very important," Cuban ambassador to Tehran Dario Urra Torriente told AFP.

"We have a common enemy, the United States, which has put in place similar laws (against both countries) aimed at strangling us economically," he said, noting that Washington considers both countries "terrorists."

He said a common stand against US policy is creating "political cooperation" between Havana and Tehran, adding that the United States is working to "block" European nations and others from having normal economic ties with both.

The Islamic republic, Torriente said, "plays a primary role in the eyes of Cuba."

Iran currently heads the G-77 group of developing nations, which actually gathers 133 countries and aims to foster economic cooperation.

Castro, 74 years old and head of the only communist-ruled country in the Americas, has met Khatami twice before, most recently when the Iranian president stopped off in Havana on a return trip from an OPEC summit.

He also met Khamenei in Harare in 1986, when the Islamic republic's supreme leader was then president.

Iran and Cuba have adopted similar positions on most major international questions, including the Middle East, and according to a Western diplomat here are boosting the "solidarity of developing nations to fight globalisation."

Bilateral trade however is currently only at around 20 million dollars annually, and there is no oil trade between them.

Iran purchases around 100,000 tonnes of Cuban sugar each year, but on the international market instead of directly, while Havana is helping Tehran construct seven sugar refineries.

The strongest cooperation between the two nations has been in the health and sport sectors. Cuba has launched a major project to sell heart and hepatitis medicines, which will be manufactured in a factor just outside Tehran.

Meanwhile more than a dozen Cuban managers, including for basketball, volleyball and judo, train young Iranians here.

Castro is due to arrive from Algeria and will be going on to Malaysia.

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posted May 09, 2001 09:29     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cuba's Fidel Castro kicks off his first visit to Iran

TEHRAN, May 8 (AFP) - Cuban President Fidel Castro arrived Monday night in Tehran for a three-day official visit, his first to Iran. Castro, leading a large delegation of officials and businessmen, was greeted at the airport by Iranian Agriculture Minister Mahmud Hodjati, foreign ministry officials and a group of Cubans residing in Iran.

The Cuban leader, who flew in from Algiers after the first leg of tour which will also take in Malaysia, is due to meet with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami Tuesday morning during a ceremony at the Saad-Abad Palace in northern Tehran.

The Cuban President is then due to visit the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic republic, Imam Khomeiny, and hold talks with Khatami.

Iran and Cuba, both under an US economic embargo, have had close relations since the 1980s in the medical and farming sectors.

However, trade is weak between the two countries, running below 20 million dollars' worth.

Castro is expected to stay in Iran until May 11, before heading to Malaysia.

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posted May 10, 2001 14:57     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Castro seeks Iran help against U.S. ''imperialism''

TEHRAN, May 9 - Cuban President Fidel Castro urged Iran on Wednesday to help defeat the U.S. ''as you toppled the shah'' in 1979.

''You overthrew the shah 22 years ago, but there is another shah one thousand times stronger and better armed,'' he said, referring to the U.S.-backed late Iranian monarch, during a visit to the Islamic republic.

''This (new) shah is imperialism, and its main stronghold is only miles away from our border,'' Castro added.

The United States ''has military bases and aircraft carriers everywhere and its nuclear warheads are aimed in every direction,'' he said in a speech to students and faculty members at Tehran University. ''But it can be toppled, just like your Shah was overthrown.''

His long speech was interspersed with humorous remarks, which drew applause from more than 700 people packed into a lecture hall, and many more standing outside watching him on closed-circuit television.

Castro arrived on Monday for a three-day visit as part of a tour of three developing nations. Despite major differences between theocratic Islamic republic and communist Cuba, the two countries have one thing in common -- the enmity of the United States.

Both under U.S. economic sanctions and political pressure, Tehran and Havana advocate a campaign to thwart what they call U.S. ''global domination.''

Castro said on Tuesday he wanted to build political ties with Iran, which he hailed as a pioneer for independence and security.

Sugar-exporting Cuba and oil-rich Iran have also expressed interest in broadening trade away from traditional exports into new products such as pharmaceuticals and industrial goods. Castro received an honorary doctorate from an Iranian university on Wednesday and was due to hold talks with Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a staunch opponent of the United States, later in the day.

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posted May 10, 2001 14:59     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Castro "breaks record for sleep" with six-hour snooze in Iran

TEHRAN, May 9 (AFP) - Cuban President Fidel Castro was delighted Wednesday at have broken his own record for sleep, by snoozing for six hours in the former imperial Iranian palace of Saad Abad, north of Tehran, he told journalists. "Can you believe it -- I have broken my own record for sleep; I have slept for six hours, and very peacefully -- it was an Olympic record," said the Cuban leader who is on an official visit to Iran.

"As I woke up, I wondered where I was, if I was dreaming," Castro said, looking happy and smiling.

Castro later met Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said afterwards the two countries, which are both subject to US embargoes, should cooperate to help bring down the United States, state media reported.

"The American regime is weak and we see it close up, and I can assure you we are not afraid of that country," Castro said. "The people and governments of Cuba and Iran can bring the United States to its knees."

Political cooperation between the two countries, both of which are seen as 'enemies' of the United States, and strengthening economic relations are at the centre of this historic visit by Castro to Iran.

As well as Khamenei, he has met President Mohammad Khatami, former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and parliament speaker Mehdi Karubi.

The Cuban president leaves Iran for Malaysia on Thursday, and not Friday as was previously announced. He is due to visit Qatar on his return journey to Havana.

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