Iran Sends High-Powered Politico-Economic Delegation to LatAm

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) arrives in Havana. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) arrives in Havana.

A 120-strong delegation of private sector representatives, economic officials and diplomats, headed by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, arrived in Cuba on Sunday.

Cuba was the first leg of a Latin America tour, which will later take Zarif to Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela.

During his stay in the Cuban capital Havana on Monday, Zarif was slated to sit down for talks with high-ranking officials, including President Raul Castro, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Rodrigo Malmierca, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Economy Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez and Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, IRNA reported.

The top diplomat and his delegation were also to attend the opening ceremony of Iran-Cuba Economic Conference on Monday.

Talking to reporters aboard the plane en route to Havana on Sunday, Zarif said Iran's principled policy is to strengthen economic and political relations with Latin American states, and the trip is aimed at preparing the ground for broader interaction between Tehran and these countries.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has close and longstanding relations with Latin Americans and is determined to take its ties in this important region of the world to a higher level," he said.

Zarif said 60 members of the delegation belong to private sector companies and 20 others are economic executives.

"This shows the importance of Latin America for Iran's economy," he said.

***High Hopes

The top diplomat said the positive experience of previous cooperation and friendly political ties between Iran and many states of the region has raised hopes for closer cooperation.

Zarif said Iran and Cuba have common views about the need for fighting arrogant powers, including the US, and Iran will stand by Cuba on this path.

The diplomat said Iran and Cuba have had great cooperation in scientific and medical fields, adding that Tehran is willing to have closer collaboration between the two countries' private sectors in technical and engineering spheres.

After a working day, the minister was to travel to Nicaragua on Monday to discuss promotion of economic cooperation with senior leaders and officials in the Central American country.

The foreign minister is expected to sign several contracts in the fields of oil, energy and marine transportation during his tour.

Zarif will wrap up his visit to Latin America on August 27.