TEHRAN (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told his Iranian counterpart on Sunday the two oil-rich states, which have forged close ties in opposition to the United States, should cooperate to defeat imperialism, Iranian media said.
Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who both regularly rail against Washington, met during an official visit by the Venezuelan leader to the Islamic Republic. Chavez arrived on Saturday after visiting Russia and Belarus.
The Venezuelan leader, who wants to forge an alliance of leftist states to counter U.S. policies, told Ahmadinejad according to the official IRNA news agency:
"Cooperation of independent countries such as Iran and Venezuela has an effective role in defeating the policies of imperialism and saving nations."
Ahmadinejad, whose country is embroiled in an escalating standoff with the West over its disputed nuclear programme, took a similar line.
"The pillars of the global arrogance have become shaky and victory (can) be achieved with resistance and standing firm," he told Chavez.
"Global arrogance" is a term Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials use to refer to the United States and its allies, but like Chavez he did not name America in comments on IRNA.
Ahmadinejad and Chavez will take part on Monday in a ceremony to officially start construction of a joint methanol complex, it said, adding the petrochemical plant would annually produce one million tonnes of the derivative.
Iran sits atop the world's second largest oil and gas reserves, but U.S.-led efforts to isolate it over its nuclear ambitions are hurting investment in the sector, analysts say. Washington broke off diplomatic ties with Tehran shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran denies accusations it is seeking to develop nuclear arms, saying it only aims to generate electricity, but major powers have begun talks on a third set of U.N. sanctions over its refusal to halt sensitive atom work.
Chavez, who prides himself on his tirades against U.S. President George W. Bush, last week forced U.S. oil giants from Venezuela, seizing oil fields from Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips.
But economists caution his social spending, mainly paid for by state oil company PDVSA, could run into trouble as Venezuela battles to maintain oil output after the exit of the majors. The opposition complain his anti-Americanism scares off investors.