To thwart American domination

CARACAS: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday they were ready to spend billions of dollars financing projects in other countries to help thwart U.S. domination.

The fiery anti-U.S. Presidents, whose efforts to extend their influence have alarmed Washington, met in Venezuela's capital, the first stop on Mr. Ahmadinejad's tour of Latin America that will see him also visit newly elected leftist leaders in Nicaragua and Ecuador.

The oil-rich nations had previously announced plans for a joint $2 billion fund to finance investments in Venezuela and Iran, but the two leaders said the money would also be used for projects in friendly third countries.

Imperialist yoke

``It will permit us to underpin investments ... above all in those countries whose Governments are making efforts to liberate themselves from the [U.S.] imperialist yoke,'' said Mr. Chavez.

``This fund, my brother,'' Mr. Chavez said referring to Mr. Ahmadinejad, ``will become a mechanism for liberation. ``Death to U.S. imperialism!'' he said.

Mr. Ahmadinejad called it a ``very important'' decision that would help promote ``joint cooperation in third countries,'' especially in Latin American and African countries.

Before his meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Chavez said in his state of the nation address that he had personally expressed hope to Thomas Shannon, head of the U.S. State Department's Western Hemisphere affairs bureau, for better relations between their two countries.

He said he spoke with Mr. Shannon at the Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's inauguration earlier this week. AP