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Iranian cargo ship carrying food docks at Venezuelan port

An Iranian-flagged cargo ship carrying foodstuff has docked at a port in Venezuela, the sixth vessel Tehran has sent to the sanctions-hit Latin American country over the past weeks.

According to shipping data from tracking website MarineTraffic, the ship, called Golsan, moored at Venezuela’s northern port of La Guaira on Monday night.

It had left Shahid Rajaei port in southern Iran more than a month ago and sailed through the Suez Canal.

Earlier, the Iranian Embassy in Caracas said the ship’s food cargo would supply the first Iranian supermarket in the South American state.

Iran’s Ambassador to Caracas Hojatollah Soltani also told Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV channel that Golsan was carrying food and medical supplies to assist the Venezuelan government with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Recently, Iran sent five tankers loaded with 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate to Venezuela to help jump start the oil refineries there amid a fuel crisis.

All of the vessels — Fortune, Forest, Petunia, Faxon and Clavel — reached Venezuela under military escort in defiance of draconian American sanctions targeting both Iran and Venezuela.

Iran’s fuel shipments drew the ire of the US. American officials said Washington was considering responses to Iran’s move, prompting Tehran to warn of retaliatory measures if the US 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.

In a post on its website on Tuesday, the US military’s Southern Command said the guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze had sailed in an area outside Venezuela’s territorial waters in what it called a “freedom of navigation operation.” 

It further claimed that the operation took place within the area the Venezuelan government “falsely claims to have control over.”

However, there was no indication of any confrontation.

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