President: Iran to take over Group 15’s presidency at Havana meeting

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Wednesday that the presidency of the Group of 15 developing countries will be handed over to Iran during its meeting in the Cuban capital, Havana. President Ahmadinejad made the remarks while speaking to reporters prior to his departure for official visits to Senegal, Cuba, Venezuela that will also take him to the United States to attend and speak at the annual UN General Assembly session in New York. He said he would hold talks with senior officials of the three countries and take part in sessions of international organizations, adding that in the Group 15 meeting, representatives of member countries will review agreements that have already been concluded and decide on strategies to implement them. “Group 15 is a more compact group among NAM countries created in the late 1980s to promote economic goals,” he said. Pointing to his upcoming meetings with Cuban officials, he said that Iran has “cooperation with Cuba in the economic, scientific and medical fields.” He said Iranian officials have paved the ground for new areas of cooperation with Cuba, adding the sides would finalize and sign new cooperation agreements during his visit. Referring to his upcoming visit to Venezuela, Ahmadinejad said: “We have friendly, sustainable and growing ties with Venezuela. Joint projects are currently under study and implementation by the two sides in the economic, cultural and industrial fields, including construction of cement and tractor manufacturing companies.” He said that during his Caracas visit his main agenda would be to hold bilateral meetings and discuss avenues for new working activities with Venezuelan officials, adding that the two sides will begin drilling of their first joint oil well in his presence. The president will end his tour with a trip to the United Nations Headquarters in New York to attend the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. He will also be among heads of governments that will address the session. On the sidelines of the annual session, which began Monday and ends on Saturday (Sept 16), he will hold talks with leaders of a number of countries. He will also meet with officials of certain US organizations, news and press circles as well as artists to explain the Iranian nation’s views on various issues. President Ahmadinejad left for Senegal Wednesday morning on the first leg of a four-nation tour. Prior to his departure, he said he would hold talks with Senegalese officials on implementation of joint projects and new investment. The president was seen off by First Vice-President Parviz Davoudi, the Supreme Leader’s Advisor for International Affairs Ali-Akbar Velayati, Vice-President for Executive Affairs Ali Saeedlou, head of the Presidential Office Gholam-Hossein Elham and a number of cabinet ministers. Minister of Industries and Mines Alireza Tahmasbi, Justice Minister Jamal Karimi-Rad and three Majlis deputies are accompanying Ahmadinejad in his tour.

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