A hostile alliance on the US's doorstep.

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A hostile alliance on the US's doorstep.

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The leaders of Venezuela and Iran have signed trade agreements as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad begins a tour of Latin America to boost political and economic ties. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a vocal critic of the US and has supported Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme in the face of Washington’s opposition.

Both men, who are heads of major oil producing countries, have also called for a cut in oil production by OPEC members in the face of tumbling oil prices. They have fallen by 15% over the last year. Chavez has been in power since 1999. In a move which will concern privately and internationally owned energy companies he has announced he is to nationalize all of his country’s energy industry.