Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will travel to Caracas on Thursday to attend late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s funeral, the semi-official Iranian FARS news agency reported.
Chavez, the fiery populist who declared a socialist revolution in Venezuela, crusaded against US influence and championed a leftist revival across Latin America, died Tuesday at age 58 after a nearly two-year bout with cancer.
On Wednesday the Iranian government declared a day of national mourning in the wake of Chavez’s death.
“As long as justice, love and freedom are alive, Hugo Chavez will be alive as well,” Ahmadinejad said in an address to the Venezuelan and Iranian people. “As long as nations are alive and strive for the materialization of independence, kindness and justice, he will be alive too.”
The Iranian president had close ties with Chavez and the two leaders met frequently over the past years.
On Wednesday Syrian President Bashar Assad mourned the passing of Chavez, saying “the demise of this unique leader is as much a great loss for me personally and the Syrian people as it is for the people of Venezuela.”
In a report by Iranian PressTV, the Syrian government was quoted as saying Chavez was a friend of the Syrian regime.
Chavez “repeatedly declared his solidarity with Syria’s leadership and its people in the face of the fierce imperialist attack it was exposed to, and condemned the American pressure [on Syria],” the official Syrian television stated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.