Iran’s President has started a two-day visit to ex-Soviet Belarus. The two nations have plenty in common, not least their bitter opposition to the United States. As for the men who head their respective regimes, both are among the most isolated leaders on the international stage.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran has been hit by UN sanctions over its nuclear programme. Alexander Lukashenko, accused in the West of crushing human rights, has been barred from the US and EU countries on suspicion of rigging his re-election as president of Belarus last year.
Belarus, angry at energy price rises from neighbouring Russia, has already clinched a deal on extracting oil from Iran, according to the man Washington has dubbed “Europe’s last dictator.” Lukashenko has defended Iran’s right to pursue its nuclear programme and it is believed the two countries could be planning to share nuclear technology. Also, Minsk’s military experts could help Tehran maintain weapons sold to Iran during the Soviet era.