As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared for a trip to Latin America, the US warned Latin American countries to refrain from expanding relations with Iran.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that Iran is aware of increased international pressure over its nuclear program and is trying to reach out to its allies.
Nuland stressed: "We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties, with Iran."
She went on to say that while the US has no diplomatic relations with Cuba and Venezuela, it will discuss the issue with Nicaragua and Ecuador.
She emphasized that all countries must make it clear to Iran that if it refuses to respect its international commitments, it will be isolated.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has started a four-nation Latin American tour aimed at expanding ties as well as holding talks on regional and international developments.
Prior to departing Tehran for Venezuela on Sunday, President Ahmadinejad said the hegemonic powers considered Latin America as their own backyard and thought they could do whatever they desired in the region, but nations have now awakened and are intent on making their decisions independently.
Iranian chief executive is scheduled to hold talks with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and discuss joint “projects and new contracts.”
The president added that today, President Chavez is considered a hero in the fight against imperialism and is making efforts to serve people and end Latin America's political and economic dependence.
President Ahmadinejad will then fly to Nicaraguan capital of Managua, where he would attend the swearing-in ceremony of the nation's President Ariel Ortega following his recent re-election. He will also discuss bilateral ties and regional developments with his Nicaraguan counterpart.
The Iranian president described President Ortega as a revolutionary figure that has struggled against hegemony and sought progress, independence and justice for his nation. Ortega led the Nicaraguan 1979 revolution against the US-installed dictator Anastasio Somoza.
During his five-day trip, President Ahmadinejad will also visit Cuba and Ecuador and hold talks with senior officials of both countries on the further expansion of bilateral relations.
Describing economic ties with Ecuador as expanding, the president announced plans to sign a number of agreements with the Latin American country.