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Ahmadinejad due in Benin on energy-focused west Africa tour

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left for Benin on Sunday for his first stop on a three-nation west African tour that will also take him to Ghana and Niger, the world's fourth-largest uranium producer. Energy will be high on Ahmadinejad's agenda during the trip and Benin said talks with President Thomas Boni Yayi would also focus on education and agriculture. According to the World Nuclear Association industry group, uranium from landlocked Niger is trucked to ports in neighbouring Benin for export, with most of it sent to Areva subsidiary Comurhex in France.

Ahmadinejad heads to Africa with energy topping agenda

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embarked Sunday on a tour of the African states of Benin, Ghana and Niger, with energy deals high on the agenda, his office said. "During our trip to Benin, Niger and Ghana, we will try to not only consolidate ties, but also take long strides in boosting comprehensive ties," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying before leaving Tehran. "Different memorandums of understanding in the fields of energy, commerce, culture, tourism and health will be signed," the Iranian leader said without giving any details on the deals.

Iran cleric says Ahmadinejad Chavez remarks 'heresy'

A senior Iranian cleric accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of "heresy" on Friday by saying in his tribute to late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez that he would be resurrected with Jesus Christ. "Those comments on Chavez's return with Christ were heresy," Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, the hardline chief of the influential Guardians Council, told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran. Janati was referring to comments by Ahmadinejad on March 6 in which he called Chavez a "martyr" who would "return, along with the righteous Jesus and the perfect human."

Iran's Ahmadinejad criticised over Chavez remarks

DUBAI, March 8 (Reuters) - Senior Iranian clerics have criticised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for saying Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will be resurrected alongside Jesus Christ and the hidden imam who Shi'ite Muslims believe will rise up to bring world peace. Iran declared a day of national mourning on Wednesday after the death of Chavez, who shared the Islamic Republic's loathing for what they both called U.S. imperialism.

Dozens of leaders to Chavez funeral, from Cuba to Iran

Venezuelan officials boasted that up to 55 world leaders will attend the state funeral of President Hugo Chavez on Friday, including US bugbears Cuba, Iran and Belarus. Interim leader Nicolas Maduro said heads of state or government from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean have confirmed their attendance for the Caracas military academy ceremony at 1530 GMT.

EU to expand sanctions on Iran over human rights abuses

BRUSSELS, March 7 (Reuters) - European Union governments will impose sanctions next week on nine Iranian officials and other people they blame for human rights violations in the Islamic Republic, EU diplomats said on Thursday. The United Nations reported last week that Iran has stepped up executions of prisoners including juveniles as well as arrests of dissidents who are often tortured in jail, sometimes to death.

Iran's Ahmadinejad heads for Chavez funeral

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was travelling to Caracas on Thursday for the funeral of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, state television reported. Ahmadinejad "will shortly leave Tehran for Venezuela to attend the funeral" of Chavez who died on Tuesday, the broadcaster announced in the early afternoon. Friday's funeral of the firebrand leftist will be attended by several heads of state from Latin America and wider afield. On Thursday, mourners filed past his open casket as he lay in state in the capital.

Iran's Ahmadinejad mourns 'martyr' Chavez

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid tribute to late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez on Wednesday saying he had fallen "martyr" to a "suspect illness". Ahmadinejad hailed his close ally for "serving the people of Venezuela and defending human and revolutionary values." "He finally died from a suspect illness and he gave his life... to the elevation of his country and the freedom of his people," Ahmadinejad said in a message of condolences to Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

Iran declares day of mourning for anti-U.S. ally Chavez

By Marcus George DUBAI, March 6 (Reuters) - Iran declared a day of national mourning on Wednesday after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who shared the Islamic Republic's loathing for U.S. "imperialism". Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had forged a public friendship with Chavez characterised by lavish mutual praise, hugs and light-hearted moments, may attend Chavez's funeral on Friday, state news agency IRNA reported.

URGENT ¥¥¥ Iran's Ahmadinejad mourns 'martyr Chavez

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid tribute to late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez on Wednesday saying he had fallen "martyr" to a "suspect illness". Ahmadinejad hailed his close ally for "serving the people of Venezuela and defending human and revolutionary values." "He finally died from a suspect illness and he gave his life... to the elevation of his country and the freedom of his people," Ahmadinejad said in a message of condolences to Vice President Nicolas Maduro.
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