Thursday Mar 01, 201211:26 PM GMT
US House panel passes bill to monitor Iran-Latin America ties
US Congress (file photo)
Thu Mar 1, 2012 11:25PM
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The US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs subcommittee on terrorism has endorsed a bill obliging the State Department to brief the Congress on Iran's activities in Latin America.


The bill, titled "Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act” and approved on Thursday, had been sponsored by representatives of Republican and Democratic parties.

According to the bill, Iran has increased the number of its embassies in Latin America from five in 2005 to 11 in 2012.

If the whole Congress approves the bill, the State Department would have to inform it of Iran's activities in Latin America within 180 days.

Iran has been seeking to expand relations with Latin American countries over the past few years, describing the endeavor as one of its major foreign policy strategies.

Major Latin American nations have also enhanced their diplomatic and trade ties with Iran in recent years while their relations with the United States have been downgraded amid popular demands for an end to dependence on Washington.

Iran’s rising popularity in Latin America has raised major concerns in Washington, which regards the region as its strategic backyard and traditional sphere of influence.

On January 6, the US warned Latin American states against expanding diplomatic and business ties with Iran, expressing concern over “Iran's outreach to the Western Hemisphere.”

MAB/MA


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