Javad Owji’s visit comes after the US delegation held a hushed meeting with Venezuela amid the rising oil and gas prices sparked by Ukraine crisis.

Venezuela's Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami attends a ceremony marking the opening of the new court term, in Caracas, Venezuela January 27, 2022.
Venezuela's Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami attends a ceremony marking the opening of the new court term, in Caracas, Venezuela January 27, 2022. (Reuters)

Iran's oil minister has paid an official visit to ally Venezuela and met his counterpart Tareck El Aissami, the government in Caracas said.

Javad Owji's visit to Venezuela on Monday, which sits on the world's largest proven reserves of crude, came just weeks after a visit by United States officials in the midst of rising global oil prices due to the Russian offensive on Ukraine.

In March, a United States delegation held a hushed meeting with Venezuela's controversial leader Nicolas Maduro, whose very legitimacy as president Washington disputes, to explore the possibility of easing US sanctions against the major oil producer.

Iran is a major oil producer and said last month that production capacity was back to levels before the reimposition of US sanctions in 2018.

El Aissami, named a narcotics "kingpin" by the United States which has placed him on a most-wanted fugitives list, posted a video on Instagram Monday of him receiving Owji at his office with a handshake.

There was no further information about the meeting, and Venezuela has not disclosed details about the agenda or program for the visit.

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Oil trade between Iran, Venezuela

Bilateral ties between the two oil producers were strong under the reign of socialist leader Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) and bolstered further under his successor Maduro.

Venezuela, under strict US sanctions that it blames for the collapse of its once-flourishing oil industry, has strong allies in Iran, Russia and China.

In 2020, Venezuela received two shiploads of fuel and derivatives from Iran to help address crippling domestic shortages. Just a few years earlier, it was still the United States' main supplier.

Also in 2020, on a visit to Caracas, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country would remain on Venezuela's "side."

The March meeting with Maduro caused questions to be raised in Washington, prompting the White House to clarify it was not in "active conversation" with Venezuela on oil imports.

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Source: AFP