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Iran, Venezuela Sign 20-Year Cooperation Pact

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signed a 20-year partnership agreement in Tehran on Saturday to boost cooperation in energy, economy, tourism, culture, and politics, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Raisi said in a press conference after the signing that Iran had always sought to have ties with “independent countries” and that “Venezuela’s resistance against imperialism and enemies was exemplary.” The Iranian president referred to sanctions imposed on Tehran as “improvement opportunities for the country.” Maduro arrived in the Islamic Republic on Friday with a high-ranking delegation. He announced at the press conference the initiation of weekly flights between Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, and Tehran, starting July 18. Iran is under significant economic strain due to rising global food prices as well as the sanctions, and no relief is in sight, given the impasse in Tehran’s nuclear talks with the world powers. At a meeting Saturday between Maduro and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Venezuelan leader said his country was drawing up a “precise roadmap for improving cooperation with Iran in various fields, particularly science and technology.” He told the supreme leader that “Venezuela has succeeded in fully confronting the US aggression through resistance” and that his country’s economic situation has greatly improved over the past few years. Khamenei said that by strengthening ties with Venezuela, Iran had shown that “it takes risks in times of danger and offers a helping hand to its friends.” Iran has helped Venezuela repair its refineries and started exporting heavy crude to Venezuela last month, following an agreement last year to trade Iranian condensate for Venezuelan heavy crude.