MINSK, March 7 (RIA Novosti) – Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko are traveling to Caracas to attend Friday’s funeral of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, state television reported.
Belarus' strongman President Lukashenko has decided to personally pay tribute to his late Venezuelan ally Chavez “taking into consideration the especially friendly character and strategic level of the Belarusian-Venezuelan relations,” the president’s spokesman said.
Commenting on his decision to attend the ceremony, Lukashenko said: “Hugo Chavez had no closer and friendlier relations with any other heads of foreign states than that which he had with the Belarusian president.”
Lukashenko, once labeled Europe’s last dictator by the United States, ordered three days of mourning for the late Venezuelan leader, describing him as a "close and reliable friend” and “brother.”
Iran’s Ahmadinejad, who also referred to Chavez as a “brother,” took off for Caracas on Thursday to attend the funeral of his closest ally in Latin America.
Since taking office in 2005, Ahmadinejad has visited Venezuela six times. The Iranian leader called Chavez “a dear friend of Iran” and "symbol of all the brave fighters and revolutionaries of Latin America."
Russia is sending Igor Sechin, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative and former deputy prime minister, to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s funeral, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
Sechin, president of the Rosneft oil company and chairman of the board at the Rosneftegaz company, has been closely involved in bilateral Russian-Venezuelan relations, Peskov said.
Russian senate speaker Valentina Matviyenko, who topped a list of the 100 most influential women in Russia recently, announced on Thursday she will also travel to Venezuela to attend the ceremony.
Chavez, 58, who had ruled the country for 14 years, died in Venezuela on Tuesday night after battling cancer for two years.