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Amid Tensions, Iran's Ahmadinejad Visits Venezuela

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad opened the first leg of a Latin American tour in Venezuela, today. The visit with President Hugo Chávez came in middle of rising tensions between Iran and the United States. The tensions intensified even further, today, after Iran announced it had sentenced a former U.S. Marine to death.

According to AP, the two leaders joked about any worry the United States has about a nuclear Iran. The reports:

"Ahmadinejad said if they were together building anything like a bomb, 'the fuel of that bomb is love.'

"Chavez played on the same theme in his remarks: 'We are going to work a lot for some bombs, for some missiles, to keep the war going. Our war is against poverty, hunger and underdevelopment.'

"The Venezuelan leader said in his nationally broadcast speech that Iranians assistance has helped the South American country build 14,000 homes as well as factories that produce food, tractors and vehicles.

"'We will always be together,' Ahmadinejad said through an interpreter. Smiling as he put his hand on Chavez's arm, the Iranian leader called the Venezuelan president 'the champion of fighting against imperialism.'"

Ahmadinejad will head to Nicaragua, Cuba and Equador next.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.