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What's Iran up to in Latin America? Alleged assassination plot deepens concerns.

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Ahmadinejad, Chávez and their 'new world order'

While Iran has been expanding its presence with many countries in recent years, its his ties with Venezuela's anti-American socialist firebrand President Hugo Chávez that raise the most concern.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in fact, was supposed to visit President Chávez this September, days after emptying the United Nations chamber for raising questions over the events of 9/11. The trip was canceled at the last minute, but it would have been one of several reciprocal state visits over the past few years.

Last year, Chávez, on a worldwide tour that took him to Tehran, stood with President Ahmadinejad telling reporters they were committed to forming a “new world order. ”

Iran has found allies too in the ALBA countries – those aligned with Venezuela, such as Bolivia and Nicaragua, in an alternative trade alliance. Perhaps most irksome to the US was the former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s openness to Tehran. During his administration he hosted Ahmadinejad, visited him, and supported Iran’s bid for a peaceful nuclear program.

Iran isolated? Not in Latin America.

Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, sees the bigger Iranian footprint in Latin America as an effort to make new political friends, as the globe questions its nuclear intentions.

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