Ahmadinejad to visit Latin American nations

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that he will tour four Latin American nations in January.

Ahmadinejad will be visiting Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador during the second week of January, Iranian officials told state news agency IRNA on Wednesday.

According to the officials, he will meet personally with Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, and attend the swearing-in ceremony of Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega. A report from Iran’s PRESS TV said that he will meet with “senior officials” in Cuba and Ecuador.

The visit comes as the United States and its European allies are ratcheting up sanctions on Iran.

Chavez has been accused of inciting violence against Venezuela’s Jewish community. Last year, he described Israel as a “genocidal state,” and accused the country of financing Venezuelan opposition groups and the Mossad of attempting to assassinate him.

Last year, Cuba’s Fidel Castro told journalist Jeffrey Goldberg that the Iranian government needed to understand the history of the Jews.

“The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust,” said Castro.