U.S. uneasy over Iran’s growing influence in Latin America

Iran’s growing relations with Latin American states has irked the United States as Washington has seen the region as its backyard.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Friday that President Obama's administration aims to improve deteriorating relationship with Latin American nations including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela to counter the growing influence of Iran, China, and Russia in the region.


"I don't think in today's world ... that it is in our interest to turn our back on countries in our own hemisphere," Clinton told diplomats and other State Department staff.


She described the new world as "a multipolar world where we are competing for attention and relationships with at least the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians."


"If you look at the gains, particularly in Latin America, that Iran is making, that China is making, it's quite disturbing," the chief U.S. diplomat said.


"They're building very strong economic and political connections with a lot of these leaders. I don't think that it's in our interests," Clinton said.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is visiting Brazil on Wednesday at the head of trade delegation.


Iran has already established close relationship with Venezuela ranging from finance to factories. Iran now manufactures cars, tractors and bicycles in Venezuela.


On Saturday, President Hugo Chavez met with a delegation from Iran to prepare for an upcoming visit by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, AP reported.


Ahmadinejad's visit "allow us to move ahead in the transfer of technology and industry," Venezuela's ambassador to Iran, David Velasquez, has said.


Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar met with Chavez on Wednesday to discuss military cooperation.







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