Under US sanctions, Iran and Venezuela sign a 20-year cooperation plan

June 11 (Reuters) – Iran and Venezuela, oil producers battling crippling US sanctions, signed a 20-year cooperation plan in Tehran on Saturday, in which the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader said the allies would continue to resist pressure from Washington.

The signing ceremony, hosted by Iranian state television, was overseen by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro and took place at Saadabad Palace in northern Tehran.

The plan includes cooperation in oil, petrochemicals, defense, agriculture, tourism and culture.

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It also includes the repair of Venezuelan refineries and the export of technical and engineering services.

“Venezuela has shown exemplary opposition to sanctions and threats from enemies and imperialists,” said Iran’s Raisi. “The 20-year co-operation document is a testament to the two countries’ willingness to develop ties.”

“Sanctions and threats against the Iranian nation over the past 40 years have been numerous, but the Iranian nation has made these sanctions an opportunity for the country’s progress,” he said.

Maduro said through an interpreter that a weekly flight from Caracas to Tehran would begin on July 18.

In a meeting with Maduro, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei promised that Iran would continue to support Venezuela in the face of American pressure, according to state media.

“The successful experience of the two countries has shown that resistance is the only way to deal with this pressure,” Khamenei said. “The two countries have such close ties with no other country, and Iran has shown that they take risks in times of danger and hold their friends in their hands.”

Maduro said: “You came to our rescue when the situation in Venezuela was very difficult and no country helped us.”

In contrast to US pressure, Iran has sent several cargo of fuel to Venezuela and helped with refinery repairs. Last month, Venezuela began importing Iranian heavy oil, extending an exchange agreement signed last year to exchange Iranian condensate for Venezuelan heavy oil. read more

Maduro arrived in Tehran on Friday with a senior political and economic delegation after visiting Turkey and Algeria.

During the visit, Iran delivered to Venezuela the second of four oil tankers the size of Aframax, with a capacity of 800,000 barrels, ordered from the Iranian company SADRA, state media reports. SADRA has been under US sanctions for more than a decade because of its links to Iran’s elite revolutionary guard.

In May, Iran’s state-owned National Iranian Oil Engineering and Construction Co. signed a contract worth around 110 million euros to repair Venezuela’s smaller refinery at 146,000 barrels per day.

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Reporting from Dubai Newsroom; Edited by Jason Neely, Angus MacSwan and Diane Craft

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