Iran Tries to Boost Influence in South America by Investing Millions

Countries sign $120 million energy deal; Foreign Min. following Tehran's influence in South America.

Iran is widening its influence in South America and will soon begin to channel hundreds of millions of dollars into developing Ecuador's energy market.

The Foreign Ministry is following Iran's increasing involvement in the continent and hopes the administration of President Barak Obama will manage to reverse the trend that developed during the tenure of former president George W. Bush, in which Tehran made inroads into the Spanish-speaking world.

Last week Iranian Deputy Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian met with President Rafael Correa in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, where they signed a number of agreements, including a $120 million deal to build power stations in the cash-strapped country. In addition, Tehran pledged to invest $40 million in small businesses. Last year the Islamic Republic loaned Ecuador $280 million for an oil refinery.

During the Iranian dignitary's visit Correa told the press there was no reason to cut off ties with Iran, saying it had done "nothing wrong." Correa paid a visit to Iran in 2008 and signed a treaty establishing diplomatic ties.

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