By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
TEHRAN, Iran — In response to a congratulatory message from Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar, Iran’s president elect, Hassan Rohani, expressed his desire to expand regional and international cooperation between Iran and Guyana during his presidency.
Rohani’s announcement of expanded ties with Guyana came after Guyanese presidential envoy George Hallaq’s visit to Tehran last week, where he personally delivered Ramotar’s congratulatory message to Rohani, who recently won the Iranian general election.
Hallaq delivered a written message from Ramotar to outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling for closer ties with Iran. Ahmadinejad said relations between Iran and Guyana will never be weakened or severed despite the long geographical distance between the two countries, according to the Iranian news agency Fars.
The Iranian president noted that the two countries “are on the same front,” and urged officials from both countries to explore areas of cooperation.
Ramotar visited Iran as part of former Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo’s official visit to Iran in 2010. At the end of that visit, Iran promised to map Guyana’s mineral resources, which came under heavy local and international criticism. This was followed by several visits from Iranian officials to Guyana but the promise never materialized and there was speculation that Guyana caved into to pressure and ended the project. But that has been dismissed by Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett.
In related developments, Argentina’s state prosecutor Alberto Nisman has accused Iran of setting up “terror cells” in Guyana, but Guyana is awaiting specific facts to back up such allegations.
“The Argentine government has not submitted in any official way that they have evidence of terror cells set up here by the Iranians,” Guyana’s chief presidential spokesman Roger Luncheon said.
Luncheon said that CARICOM also demands answers from Argentina.
“Those disclosures were the first that had been brought to our attention, indirectly, because I know for a fact that the Argentine government and international bodies have not submitted to the government of Guyana in any official way that they have evidence or they have concerns about setting up of terrorist cells by Iran in Guyana,” he added.