Iran foreign minister begins Latin America tour in Cuba

World Today

Mohammad Javad Zarif and Bruno Rodriguez Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Iran’s foreign minister arrived in Cuba for the first part of a six-nation trip to Latin America. Iran is looking to mark a new chapter in relations with the region now that a nuclear deal has been agreed and international sanctions against Iran lifted.

CCTV America’s Michael Voss reports the tour is both political and economic.

Iran foreign minister begins Latin America tour in Cuba

Iran foreign minister begins Latin America tour in Cuba

Now that international sanctions against Iran have been lifted, Tehran is looking to start a new chapter in relations with Latin America. CCTV America's Michael Voss reports.

Cuba and Iran have long maintained close ties united by what Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called a shared history of resisting U.S. atrocities.

Iran no longer faces international sanctions now that it has reached a nuclear deal with world powers. But he praised Cuba for not giving in to the half-century old U.S. trade embargo.

“The revolutionary government of Cuba has proven that the powerful neighbor to the north cannot defeat the resistance of those who stand firm, just as the Iranian people have done,” Zarif said.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez reaffirmed Cuba’s support for Iran to develop nuclear energy for peaceful use.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, talks to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, talks to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, right, in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Most of the countries on this six-nation tour of Latin America are members of the left-wing Alba alliance: Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. The one exception is Chile which is only now re-establishing diplomatic relations with Iran.

Joseph Humire from the U.S. Center for a Secure and Free Society thinks Iran touring these specific countries is cause for concern.

“These are the countries that have been most anti-U.S. in the region,” Humire said.

But for Cuba and many of the other Latin American countries, this visit is as much about trade and investment as politics. Energy is another vital interest for Iran, Venezuela and Cuba.

There is a sizable business delegation accompanying the Iranian foreign minister, some 60 executives from both private and state companies looking for new business in Latin America.

Both Cuba and Venezuela’s struggling economies are in need of financial help.

An Iranian oil executive told CCTV that Cuba was interested in his company’s oil drilling equipment and technology.

For the Iranian foreign minister, this is a flying visit, six countries in a week. The next stop is Nicaragua.