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Tehran Ships Food To Venezuela To Establish Country's First Iranian Supermarket


People queue for fuel at a gas station after Venezuela's government launched a new fuel-pricing system in Caracas on June 1.

An Iranian cargo ship carrying food has docked in Venezuela’s capital, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported on June 22, amid a scarcity of basic goods in the South American country.

The goods are to stock the first Iranian supermarket in Venezuela, Iran's Embassy in Caracas tweeted on June 20, adding that the delivery marks “another success in friendly and fraternal relations between two countries.”

Foreign-currency shortages amid Venezuela’s deep economic crisis mean the country is barely able to import food, medicine, and everyday necessities. U.S. sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro's government have also made imports difficult.

The food shipment comes after Iran last month supplied 1.5 million barrels of fuel to Venezuela, once South America's top oil producer, helping to alleviate a gasoline shortage.

Iran also provided Venezuela with key ingredients needed to restart refineries and resume producing its own gasoline.

Both Iran and Venezuela are under U.S. sanctions, and Washington has warned governments, seaports, shippers, and insurers that they could face measures if they aid the tankers.

President Donald Trump softened his tone toward Venezuela slightly in an interview published on June 19 in which he said he would consider meeting Maduro.

"I would maybe think about that,” Trump said in the interview with the news website Axios.

And in a tweet on June 22, the U.S. president said he “would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!”

Trump expressed an openness to meeting Maduro once before, in 2018, and the Venezuelan leader also made overtures for talks, but nothing materialized and the United States instead added extensive sanctions that have added to the South American country’s economic woes.

He also indicated waning confidence in Juan Guaido, who was recognized by the United States and other Western countries as the legitimate leader of Venezuela in January 2019 after what most consider a sham election that kept Maduro in power.

While the United States has maintained pressure on the Maduro regime, largely through sanctions, Maduro has retained the support of the military as well as the backing of Russia, Cuba, China, and Iran.

Maduro earlier this month said he would visit Iran shortly to sign cooperation agreements in energy and other sectors after Iran sent the oil, which arrived in five tankers.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, Axios and dpa
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