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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro salutes as he arrives for the celebrations for the seventh anniversary of the Bolivarian Militia in Caracas on April 17, 2017. Venezuela's defence minister on Monday declared the army's loyalty to Maduro, who ordered troops into the streets ahead of a major protest by opponents trying to oust him. Venezuela is bracing for what Maduro's opponents vow will be the "mother of all protests" Wednesday, after two weeks of violent demos against moves by the leftist leader and his allies to tighten their grip on power. / AFP PHOTO / Federico PARRA (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Maduro to make Columbia market for Iranian missile tech

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday said it would be a “good idea” to look into buying missiles from Iran, a day after Colombia said Venezuela was considering such a plan amid growing ties between Caracas and Tehran.

Iran in May supplied gasoline to Venezuela to ease chronic shortages, triggering alarm bells in Washington as the two countries expand trade relations amid efforts to undermine aggressive U.S. sanctions programs.

“It had not occurred to me, it had not occurred to us,” Maduro said during a televised broadcast with cabinet members, instructing Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino to follow up and jokingly telling his cabinet to keep the plan a secret.

“Padrino, what a good idea, to speak with Iran to see what short, medium and long range missiles they have, and if it is possible, given the great relations we have with Iran.”

Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Thursday that Maduro is looking to buy Iranian missiles and is handing over weapons made in Russia and Belarus to Colombian armed groups, citing intelligence reports.

Weapons purchases appear relatively unlikely for Maduro, whose government is struggling to buy basic food and medicine or to provide fuel to the population due sanctions as well as chronic dysfunction of the country’s refineries.

Source: Reuters

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