Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez here Sunday awarded visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the “Libertador Medal,” the highest medal of honor his country bestows on visiting dignitaries. President Ahmadinejad, heading a delegation, arrived in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday on the last leg of a tri-nation tour that has already taken him to Senegal and Cuba. The president, after concluding his Venezuela visit, will travel to New York to attend the 61st annual session of the United Nations General Assembly, which begins Tuesday. Ahmadinejad is a revolutionary leader who loves freedom and opposes arrogant governments and their bullying of the free Iranian nation, Chavez said. He said that the Iranian president deserved his country’s highest distinction, the medal bearing the three colors of the Venezuelan flag and which has a 200-year history. The Iranian president, for his part, said the Libertador Medal symbolized the brave Iranian and Venezuelan nations and that it was his honor to receive it. He described Chavez as a champion of his nation’s battle against against arrogance and bullying in Latin America. He praised the Venezuelan nation for taking the bold decision to be independent and not let the US and other arrogant states interfere in their affairs. Ahmadinejad said Venezuela’s highest medal awarded to him represented the kindness and common struggle of the two nations that would reinforce the unity of their nations and governments. Prior to the awards ceremony, the two sides signed six documents for cooperation and agreements for expansion of bilateral cooperation in the presence of Ahmadinejad and Chavez. Construction of a cement factory and steel mill, establishment of a joint oil company for oil and gas exploration, cooperation in petrochemical and industrial activities and inauguration of a Tehran-Caracas direct air route were among subjects covered by the documents. The Iranian and Venezuelan presidents have also issued an official joint statement.
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