Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday they would help finance investment projects in other countries seeking to thwart U.S. domination.
The two countries —whose fiery anti-American leaders' moves to extend their influence have alarmed Washington —had previously revealed plans for a joint $2 billion USfund to finance investments in Venezuela and Iran.
But the leaders said Saturday the money would also be used for projects in friendly countries throughout the developing world.
"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," Chavez said.
"This fund, my brother," the Venezuelan president said, referring affectionately to Ahmadinejad, "will become a mechanism for liberation."
"Death to U.S. imperialism!" he said.
Ahmadinejad, who is starting a tour of left-leaning countries in the region, called it a "very important" decision that would help promote "joint co-operation in third countries," especially in Latin America and Africa.
Leaders back OPEC production cut
Iran and Venezuela are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and Chavez also said Saturday that they had agreed to back an oil production cut in the cartel in order to stem a recent fall in crude prices.
"We know today there is too much crude in the market," Chavez said. "We have agreed to join our forces within OPEC … to support a production cut and save the price of oil."
Ahmadinejad's visit Saturday — his second to Venezuela in less than four months — comes as he seeks to break international isolation over his country's nuclear program and possibly line up new allies in Latin America.
He is also expected to visit Nicaragua and Ecuador, which both recently elected leftist governments.
Chavez and Ahmadinejad have been increasingly united by their deep-seated antagonism toward U.S. President George W. Bush and his administration. Chavez has become a leading defender of Iran's nuclear ambitions, accusing Washington of using the issue as a pretext to attack Tehran.
Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, has called Chavez "the champion of the struggle against imperialism."
U.S. officials have accused Chavez — a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro — of authoritarian tendencies, and U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said recently in an annual review of global threats that Venezuela's democracy was at risk.
The U.S. also believes Iran is seeking to use its nuclear program to develop an atomic bomb. Tehran says its program is peaceful and geared toward the production of energy.