Chavez-Zelaya Talks

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras _ Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez proposed an aid program Tuesday in which Honduras could pay for oil with agricultural products.

“The people of Honduras shouldn‘t worry about fuel because the oil (Honduras) needs is in Venezuela,‘‘ Chavez said at a news conference with Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Chavez and Zelaya signed an accord in which Honduras would buy 100 per cent of the fuel needed for industrial use and 30 per cent of diesel and gasoline from Venezuela.

The agreement, however, has to be ratified by the Honduran legislature before it takes effect. And Honduras‘s opposition-aligned congressional president, Roberto Micheletti, said he would veto the accord.

Venezuela already sells oil under preferential credit terms to various Latin American and Caribbean countries in an effort by Chavez to build alliances and diminish U.S. influence in the region.

Meanwhile in Guatemala, an Iranian envoy offered to provide agricultural aid and assistance to explore Guatemala‘s oil fields in an effort to strengthen ties with the Central American country.

“We could give scholarships to learn about the oil industry or send consulting firms to help our Guatemalan friends,‘‘ said Iranian deputy foreign minister Alireza Sheikhattar.

The rising number of leftist leaders in Latin America and their growing frustration with Washington have given Iran an opportunity to expand its influence in the region, where it already provides assistance to Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua and has close relations with Cuba.

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