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News number: 8803080597

15:13 | 2009-05-29

World

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Ecuador to Shut US Base, Expand Iran Ties

TEHRAN (FNA)- Ecuadorian Defense Minister Javier Ponce Cevallos said that his country is going beyond the Cold War rules and seeking defense ties with Iran.



In a snub to US complaints, Ponce said, "we have our own policies, our own geostrategic positions, and what interests us, with Iran for instance, is boosting information technology and our national defense strategies," he told a radio channel in Ecuador, press tv reported.

He explained that Ecuador is trying to "open up to collaboration with nations that are very willing to help Ecuador develop its own defense industry."

The Ecuadorian and Iranian presidents in 2008 agreed to expand relations by establishing embassies in Tehran and Quito. This comes as the White House has expressed discomfort with Iran's growing influence in Latin America.

Ponce commented on the issue and said that his country plans to shut the US military base at Manta in western Ecuador within four months.

"I believe that eventually there will be nothing left, and the US is removing all its infrastructure," he said.

Despite strong domestic opposition, former Ecuadorian president Jamil Mahuad signed a deal that allowed the US in 1999 to use the base for ten years.

In February, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Iran's close alliance with certain Latin American countries has caused more concern for him than Russia's recent naval maneuvers in the region.

"I'm concerned about the level of frankly subversive activity that the Iranians are carrying on in a number of places in Latin America," Robert Gates told a Senate committee, without elaborating on what he meant by "subversive."

A number of leftist states in the region, namely Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, have all become allies of Iran in recent years and support Tehran's opposition to the unipolar international order built around US interests.

Gates also accused Iran of "opening a lot of offices" in the region to meddle in the internal affairs of Latin American countries, despite the fact that the US has been meddling in Latin America's internal affairs -- often violently -- for over a century.

By adopting the so-called "Monroe Doctrine" [(named after James Monroe, the fifth US president 1817-1825)], the US has claimed for itself paternalistic oversight in Latin American affairs, in what it considers its 'backyard'. This view is rejected by the new set of democratically-elected, left-leaning governments of that continent which have replaced the US-backed military juntas.