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Fifth Iranian tanker carrying fuel sails into Venezuela’s territorial waters

The fifth and last tanker in a flotilla of ships carrying Iranian fuel has entered Venezuela’s territorial waters, with the Latin American state’s president announcing a plan to visit Tehran for even more cooperation deals between the two nations.

According to Refinitiv Eikon tracking data, Clavel crossed into Venezuelan waters late on Sunday and was navigating near Tortuga Island on Monday.

It is heading to the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA)’s El Palito refining facility in Puerto Cabello, according to the data.

The tanker will be delivering the last cargo of the 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate that Iran sent to Venezuela to help revive oil refineries in the South American country, which is suffering from a severe fuel shortage caused by US sanctions.

Clavel left Bandar Abbas port on the Persian Gulf on April 28 and traveled the Red Sea and Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, and then into the Atlantic.

Four other Iran-flagged vessels — Fortune, Forest, Petunia and Faxon —  have already reached Venezuela under military escort and unloaded their cargo.

Iran’s fuel shipments have drawn the ire of the US, which has imposed draconian sanctions on the two states with the aim of crippling their oil sectors.

Earlier this month, US officials said Washington was considering responses to Iran’s move, prompting Tehran to warn of retaliatory measures if Washington causes any problem for the Venezuela-bound tankers.

The United States then threatened stiff sanctions against foreign governments, shipping firms, seaports, and insurers if they aid the Iranian tankers.

Speaking on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi stressed Iran’s resolve to continue fuel shipments to Venezuela if Caracas requests more supplies.

“Iran practices its free trade rights with Venezuela and we are ready to send more ships if Caracas demands more supplies from Iran,” he said.

The shipments took place as part of earlier economic cooperation agreements between Iran and Venezuela.

Maduro set to visit Iran soon

On Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced plans to visit Iran to ink more cooperation deals in different sectors.

“Soon we will travel to Iran, to embrace them. Soon I will be in Iran. As soon as the sanitary conditions in Iran and Venezuela allow it,” said the Venezuelan head of state, referring to ongoing efforts to contain a coronavirus outbreak in both countries.

“We will go to the high-level joint committee to sign agreements on energy cooperation, financial cooperation, military cooperation, agricultural cooperation, technological cooperation, scientific cooperation, pharmaceutical cooperation. We will sign documents,” he said in a state television address.

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