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April 4, 2009

Iran, Venezuela launch joint development bank


April 4, 2009

TEHRAN: Iran and Venezuela on Friday inaugurated a joint bank to finance their development projects, during a visit by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran, state media reported.

The Iran-Venezuela Joint Bank, based in Tehran, has an initial capital base of 200 million dollars, with each nation providing half of the funds, the state broadcaster said.

The Export Development Bank of Iran, which is under sanctions from the US Treasury, was tasked with creating the joint bank with the Venezuelans.

“The capital will be raised to 1.2 billion dollars with the aim of supporting joint economic, industrial and mining projects as well as speeding up the current projects,” the report said.

“What happened today represents a strong will to build a new world,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, attending the opening ceremony with Chavez.Iran is under international banking sanctions over its controversial

nuclear programme, which the West suspects to be a cover for atomic weapons development although Tehran insists itis purely peaceful.

Chavez, a vocal cheerleader in Latin America for Iran and its nuclear ambitions, was quoted as saying that the two countries should “further strengthen their trade cooperation.”

The creation of the bank was announced in May last year, following up on an agreement which the two countries signed in March 2007.

The joint bank will work within Iran’s banking regulations and its activities will be overseen by the Islamic republic’s Central Bank, Iranian news agencies said.

The board of directors comprises four Iranians and four Venezuelans, reports said, adding that a joint investment fund will also be launched in Venezuela.

The United States has also imposed sanctions on three large Iranian banks Mellat, Melli and Saderat, accusing them of financing weapons proliferation.

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