Iran’s amicable relations with Latin American states, in particular Venezuela, has become a sticking point in the US presidential campaign, with both leading contenders trading accusations on policies towards South American states allied with the Islamic Republic.
The tit-for-tat began when Republican candidate Mitt Romney and his party attacked US President Barack Obama for asserting in a Tuesday interview that Venezuela’s ties with Iran are not a “serious threat” to American national security, The Hill newspaper reported Wednesday.
“This is a stunning and shocking comment by the president,” said Romney in a statement, warning that Chavez, along with Cuba’s Castros, is seeking to lead an “anti-American, Bolivarian revolution across Latin America.”
Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican presidential contender denounced Obama for being “naive.”
In response, Obama campaign blasted his Republican rival for “playing into the hands” of President Chavez with his criticism of US president’s approach to the Latin American leader, who has been hugely critical of US policy in his region.
An Obama campaign spokesman said he was confused about how Romney and the Republicans “are scared of a leader like Chavez.”
“Governor Romney is only playing into the hands of Chavez by acting like he’s 10 feet tall,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. “It’s disturbing that Mitt Romney is trying to score cheap political points by blustering and misrepresenting the president’s record while failing to outline any coherent foreign policy strategy.”
According to The Hill, Republican members of the US Congress have expressed concerns about Iran’s ties with Latin American “leftist” states with the House Foreign Affairs Committee asking in a February hearing whether official visits by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador were spurred by a desire to “attack” the US or undercut its influence in the region.
This is while the House committee is widely known to be highly influenced by the powerful Israeli lobby in the United States and often attempts to raise false alarms against an “Iranian threat” in efforts to spur adverse actions against the Islamic Republic.
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