Iran’s government blamed the killing on Israel, the U.S. and Britain. The U.S. denied involvement. Ahmadinejad began his Latin America tour shortly after Washington imposed tougher sanctions on Tehran over the nuclear program. He spent less than 24 hours in Cuba, following visits to Venezuela and Nicaragua. In Ecuador, Ahmadinejad got a bear hug from President Rafael Correa, who last received the Iranian president during his 2007 inauguration and visited Tehran the following year. The two dined at the presidential palace and waved to hundreds of Ecuadorean from its balcony, where a big Iranian flag flew. The Iranian president thanked Correa for his solidarity and said that “the era of imperialism and global arrogance are exhausted.” The president of Quito’s chamber of commerce, Blasco Penaherrera, criticized the visit, calling the foreign policy of Ecuador’s leftist president irresponsible. “It’s going to make it much more difficult to make progress with our principal market, the United States,” he said. Iran opened an embassy in Ecuador in 2008. Trade between the two nations has been meager.

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