By: Mir M.Hosseini
The iconic Cuban President Fidel Castro was warmly received in Tehran by his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Khatami. Castro was welcomed in grand style with a guard of honor at the former imperial palace, before the two leaders started their first round of talks. The 74 year old Castro flew in from Algeria. The meeting was focused on the G-77 group of developing nations headed by Iran at the time. During Khatami's presidency, Iran had gained some of her lost prestige worldwide after Khatami presented his famous Dialogue Among Civilizations at the United Nations.
The Cuban leader underlined that his visit was political and cultural rather than commercial and praised Iran for standing up to the US. Both Cuba and Iran have been under US trade embargoes and listed by the superpower as sponsors of state terrorism. The trip followed President Khatami's official visit to Havana after the OPEC summit in Venezuela in September, 2000.
The following day, Mr. Castro joked that he slept better his first night in Iran than ever before. He had good reason to feel at home as both nations have little tolerance for U.S. sanctions and efforts to brand them as outcasts. Medical and construction technology exchanges and economic issues were also discussed as state television reported. Before leaving Iran, Fidel Castro met with Ayatollah Khamenei and discussed international politics, particularly the US hegemony.