Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl)
WASHINGTON – The outgoing head of America’s armed forces warned Monday about the
growing ties between Iran and Venezuela and said the US is monitoring the
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Referring to criticism in Congress leveled at
Venezuela recently because of its relationship with Iran, Adm. Mike Mullen,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “I certainly share their concern in
terms of Venezuela’s links to Iran, which have been there for a significant
amount of time and are growing.”
Noting that the US has designated Iran
as a state sponsor of terror, Mullen added, “We pay a lot of attention to what
they’re doing around the world.”
In his briefing with the foreign press,
Mullen also pointed to US efforts to create a missile defense architecture in
Eastern Europe to defend against Iranian capabilities, which he said Tehran has
invested in increasing.
Mullen recently stopped in Israel while returning
from a trip to the region, and he said Monday that he came away from that visit
reassured that Israel is working assiduously to overcome the recent tensions
with Turkey so that the military coordination between the two countries can
“I was reassured by the Israeli leadership that they’re working
to strengthen the ties with Turkey.
That’s a significant relationship
that is long-standing,” he said.
Relations between the two countries,
including between the two militaries, have deteriorated since the Islamic AK
Party has come to power and were then intensified by the efforts of a
Turkish-flagged flotilla to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza last year, which
left nine Turks dead at the hands of the IDF.
Mullen said that despite
recent developments, the relations between the two countries endure.
don’t see anything that would indicate that they don’t exist or wouldn’t in the
future [at least] to some degree,” he said.
America, too, faces a fraught
relationship with a long-time ally in the region – Pakistan – and Mullen, who
has invested a tremendous amount of personal and professional attention to
nurturing ties with the country, acknowledged the US has a challenge in working
“We’re in a very difficult time right now with respect to
our military to military relationship,” he said.
But he continued, “I
don’t believe we’re close to severing it and we shouldn’t do that. I think
sustaining that relationship is critical. We’ve been through difficult times
with them in the past. We should see this difficult time through.”