Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran and Cuba have both endured cruel sanctions imposed by the United States, stressing that such bans have enhanced the perseverance and resistance of the two nations.
“The resistance of the Iranian and Cuban nations has left the hegemonic countries no other choice but compromise and renunciation of their hostile policies even in their words,” Zarif said in the opening ceremony of Iran-Cuba joint economic conference in Havana on Monday.
He added that steadfastness of the Iranian and Cuban people is a “valuable asset” to improve cooperation between the two countries’ state and private sectors.
Iran and Cuba have both been the target of various US sanctions over the past decades.
However, sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program were stipulated to be removed under last year’s agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which went into effect on January 16.
Meanwhile, despite a thaw in diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana, a 55-year embargo on Cuba still remains in place. The two countries became ideological foes soon after the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power and their ties remained hostile even after the end of the Cold War.
The top Iranian diplomat further emphasized that Tehran and Havana should make use of the appropriate opportunity created following the removal of sanctions against Iran to strengthen relations.
“Iran and Cuba enjoy broad interaction on political and international scenes and their cooperation must be improved in the economic sector,” Zarif said.
He noted that the high-ranking politico-economic delegation accompanying him in his six-nation tour of Latin America indicates that the “Islamic Republic attaches great importance to its deep and strong ties with Cuba and the Latin American countries.”
He said Tehran and Havana can boost cooperation, adding that this would be beneficial to Latin American countries.
Zarif pays tribute to Cuba’s national hero
Earlier on Monday, the Iranian foreign minister paid tribute to Jose Marti, Cuba’s national hero, and laid a wreath at his memorial monument.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lays a wreath at the memorial monument of Jose Marti, Cuba’s national hero, in Havana on August 22, 2016.
Zarif and his entourage visited parts of the building.
Heading a 120-strong politico-economic delegation, Zarif arrived in the Cuban capital Sunday night as the first leg of his official Latin America tour, which will also take him to Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Venezuela.