Iran and Bolivia are natural allies: Ahmadinejad

Two "revolutionary nations" agree to boost their relations


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Bolivia's visiting left-wing President Evo Morales on Monday their two nations are natural allies and would boost energy ties, state media reported.

"The two revolutionary nations and the governments of Iran and Bolivia are natural allies and will boost their relations in the fields of commerce, industry, agriculture, gas, oil and politics," he told Morales on the first day of a two-day trip to Tehran.

"We are striding on a common path towards a brighter future and will remain by each other's side and supportive of one another under any circumstances," he said, quoted by the state-run television news website.

The website also quoted Morales, whose country sits on South America's second largest gas reserves, as saying he supports Ahmadinejad.

"I support and praise Mr Ahmadinejad's stance against imperialism and defending the rights of the Iranian people," he said." I also hail Iranian progress in industry and agriculture."

Morales, who in 2006 became the first indigenous leader of Bolivia, left La Paz on Friday on a trip to reinforce new diplomatic ties with Tehran.

Energy-rich La Paz and Tehran established relations in September 2007 when Ahmadinejad made an official trip to Bolivia to sign trade and energy accords. Their growing ties have raised concerns in Washington.

In La Paz, Ahmadinejad and Morales signed a joint statement recognizing "the rights of developing nations to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."

The United States and its European allies fear that Iran is seeking to build an atomic bomb under the guise of its civilian nuclear programme, a charge that Tehran vehemently denies.

Within Latin America, Bolivia has aligned itself with Venezuela and Cuba, and rejects U.S. influence in the region.

At the time of the La Paz visit, Iran's top Latin America diplomat, Safar Ali Eslamian, denied his country was forming an anti-U.S. bloc with Venezuela and Bolivia, two countries that support Tehran's nuclear programme.