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Iran's Rouhani heads for Cuba, Venezuela before UN assembly

The Iranian leader will visit Tehran's allies before heading to New York [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 September, 2016

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President Rouhani left Tehran on Friday to visit South American allies in Venezuela and Cuba before heading towards New York for the UN General Assembly next week.

Hassan Rouhani is expected to arrive in South America on Friday, for a regional tour to visit Venezuela and Cuba ahead of next week's UN General Assembly in New York.

The Iranian president will attend a summit of Non-Aligned Movement countries while also holding talks with Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro, the local IRNA news agency reported.

Speaking to journalists before leaving Tehran, Rouhani described Cuba as a "friendly and revolutionary country" and said he would meet President Raul Castro, and his brother and revolutionary leader, Fidel.

"For us, peace and non-interference in domestic affairs of other countries, their national sovereignty, consultation and coordination on issues of the developing and entire world are important," Rouhani said head of the trip.

The 120-nation NAM group was established more than 50 years ago to represent countries keen to resist being squeezed in the power-struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Rouhani's trip comes amid a global oil glut that has seen prices fall dramatically in recent years.

Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves and has been hit hard by the price slump.

Iran -which has nearly doubled oil and gas exports in the past year - has so far resisted pressure from fellow members of the OPEC oil cartel to back a production freeze.

World leaders are expected to convene in New York starting Monday for the 71st UN General Assembly, with the global refugee crisis and the Syria war likely to top the agenda.

Iran is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and is currently engaged in a war of words with regional rival Saudi Arabia. 

Iran and world powers signed a landmark deal last year to curb Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of punishing economic sanctions.

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