Iran’s President is scheduled to begin his tour to five countries in Africa and South America on Sunday days after the Israeli president ended a tour aimed at rallying support against Tehran.
“Iranian President (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) will visit Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Senegal and Gambia,” IRINN reported on Sunday.
“Ahmadinejad is slated to visit Gambia in the first leg of his five-day trip,” it added.
He will then visit Brazil on the second day. Bolivia, Venezuela and Senegal will be the next targets.
Ahmadinejad’s tour is aimed at boosting political and economic ties with the five African and South American countries.
Israeli President Shimon Peres’s week-long visit to Brazil and Argentina, the first trip to the countries after 40 and 20 years respectively, comes amid Iran’s amicable relationship with Latin American countries.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has thrown his weight behind Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear program aimed at peaceful purposes in September’s UN gathering in New York.
Iran’s close ties with Latin America and particularly Brazil, the fifth largest country, has been a cause of major concern both for Israel and its staunch ally, the US.
A day after Iran’s ambassador to Brazil announced that Ahmadinejad and a large entourage of 110 representatives from 65 companies were to visit Brasilia early May 2009, US Secretary of State dubbed the development as “quite disturbing.”
Blaming US President Barack Obama’s predecessor for “Iran gains” in the region, the top US diplomat noted “I don’t think in today’s world, where it’s a multi-polar world, where we are competing for attention and relationships with the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, that it’s in our interest to turn our backs on our own hemisphere.”
The Israeli president’s visit to the two Latin American countries, home to the largest Jewish community in the region, also led to angry demonstrations against the trip.
Demonstrators denounced Tel Aviv’s deadly offensive against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip which killed more than 1400 people, a large number of them women and children.
In Argentina, protestors carried placards which read “Get out of Argentina, murderer Shimon Peres”, “Death to Zionist-fascist Israel, officer of American imperialism in the Middle East, murderers of the Palestinian people!”.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Israeli President had been hailed as “Shimon Hitler”, during protests. Demonstrators carried placards showing Peres, sporting a short Hitlerian mustache standing next to an Israeli flag upon which a swastika had been drawn.