TEHRAN — Iran and Venezuela signed a 20-year deal on cooperation between the two allies subject to U.S. sanctions during a visit Saturday to the Islamic Republic by Venezuela’s President Nicholas Maduro.
The two sides hailed raising bilateral relations to the “strategic” level and agreed that the two countries can boost ties in trade in addition to the energy, science and technology, agriculture and tourism sectors.
The inking of the agreement “shows the determination of the high-level officials of the two countries for development of relations in different fields,” Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said.
Maduro, speaking at a joint news conference in the Iranian capital, said the cooperation covered the energy and financial sectors, as well as an agreement to “work together on defense projects.”
Alongside the likes of Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey, Iran is one of Venezuela’s main allies. And like Venezuela, it is subject to tough U.S. sanctions.
“Venezuela has passed hard years but the determination of the people, the officials and the president of the country was that they should resist the sanctions,” Raisi said during the news conference.
“This is a good sign that proves to everyone that resistance will work and will force the enemy to retreat,” the Iranian president added.
Like Venezuela, Raisi said, Iran has also faced sanctions by the U.S. and others for decades, but has chosen to regard them as an opportunity to move the country forward.
Raisi said Iran has been successful in breaking the “maximum pressure” policy that Washington has embarked on since unilaterally abandoning Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in 2018.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy has always been to have relations with independent countries, and Venezuela showed that it has had incredible resistance against threats and sanctions by enemies and imperialism,” Raisi said, sitting next to Maduro.
In addition to the 20-year accord inked by the two countries’ foreign ministers, “Iran and Venezuela signed documents on cooperation in the political, cultural, tourism, economic, oil and petrochemical fields,” IRNA news agency said.
“We have important projects of cooperation between Iran and Venezuela in the fields of energy, petrochemical, oil, gas and refineries,” Maduro said.
Maduro also praised Venezuela’s “resistance against sanctions and imperialism” since 2017, and said his country aims to use Iran’s experiences in this area and will center future cooperation on science and technology.
The Venezuelan president hailed Iran’s “miracles” in developing its agriculture sector amid historic droughts, and said the two countries aimed to develop ties in this sector.
From July 18, direct flights would operate between Caracas and Tehran “in order to promote tourism and the union between our countries,” he said, adding that “Venezuela is open to receive tourists from Iran.”
“I believe that our future will be one of the pleasing and solid friendships,” he said. “The future of the world is one of equality and justice and standing up against imperialism. We must build this future together.”
Iran’s president also emphasized the importance of direct flights between the two capitals, saying it could pave the way for the enhancement of “trade and economic relations as well as bringing the two nations closer together.”
Bilateral ties between the two oil producers were strong under late Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez and have been further bolstered under his successor Maduro.
In an interview with state-run Spanish-language Hispan TV on Friday, Maduro also praised Iran’s help with its oil industry.
Raisi, who had sent his petroleum minister Javad Owji to meet with Maduro in May, on Saturday promised cooperation will continue with Venezuela, which sits on the world’s largest proven crude reserves.
Since 2020, Iran has helped repair and overhaul a number of Venezuelan refineries that have suffered from decades of mismanagement, low investments and sanctions.
The countries also signed an oil swap agreement last year, based on which Iran sent shipments of its heavy crude to help Venezuela ramp up the production of oil and gas to avoid fuel crises that it has seen in recent years.
Iran is a major oil producer and said in April that output capacity was back to levels before the reimposition of U.S. sanctions under then-president Donald Trump in 2018.
In 2020, Venezuela received two shiploads of fuel and derivatives from Iran to help address crippling domestic shortages.
Iran is the third country that Maduro has visited this week after trips to Turkey and Algeria.
Hamed Mousavi, professor of