Iran’s president meets Cuban counterpart in last leg of Latin American tour
HAVANA, Cuba (AP) — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met with Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel on Thursday, wrapping up a Latin America trip that also included visits to Iran’s two other allies in the region — Venezuela and Nicaragua.
During a trade forum with local businesspeople in Havana, Raisi said Cuba and Iran would seek to work together in biotechnology, mining, electricity generation and other areas.
“I hope this meeting will help facilitate integration as well as an exchange of ideas and opinions,” Raisi said.
Unlike his previous stops in Nicaragua and Venezuela, Raisi refrained from making harsh comments in public against Washington or the economic sanctions imposed on his country and its three allies in the region.
After the forum, Raisi and Diaz-Canel toured biotechnology production plants in the western part of the capital, then headed to a closed-door reception at Cuba’s Palace of the Revolution.
The leaders also signed several agreements on customs, justice, telecommunications and diplomatic action.
While the scope of the agreements was not yet clear, the energy sector is one of particular importance for Cuba, where fuel shortages have increased dramatically in the past weeks amid a severe economic crisis.
Raisi’s tour of allied nations in Latin America comes amid rising tensions with the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.
Iranian President @raisi_com to Visit Three US-Sanctioned Latin American Countries ; Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba to boost Tehran's economic and political relations.#Iran #diplomattimes
Source : FNA pic.twitter.com/9O0EXTZPWK
— Diplomat Times (@diplomattimes) June 9, 2023
Asked about Raisi’s Latin America tour earlier this month, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on the Iranian leader or his agenda. But Kirby acknowledged the administration was concerned about Iran’s “destabilizing behavior, and said it will “continue to take steps to mitigate that behavior.”
The U.S. has accused Iran of providing Russia with materials to build a drone manufacturing plant east of Moscow, while the Kremlin seeks to ensure a steady supply of weapons for its invasion of Ukraine. U.S. intelligence officials believe the plant in Russia could start operations early next year, but Iran has said it supplied drones to Russia before the start of the war.