The presidents of Iran and Venezuela took advantage of a summit of African leaders Saturday to declare solidarity with the impoverished continent and to lash out at the West, comparing Africa's centuries-old slave trade to a modern-day struggle for Third World freedom.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez backed Iran's controversial nuclear enrichment program, which the United States and the European Union want rolled back despite Iran's insistence that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.
"Doesn't Iran have the right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful means?" Chavez said during a summit of the 53-nation African Union in Gambia's capital, Banjul. "Obviously, it has the right."
Chavez said his nation was "tired of being exploited by the American empire. We said: 'No more,' and we have broken our chains and we are building a Venezuela independent of foreign intervention."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused "bullying powers" of plundering the wealth of poorer nations, but did not specifically name any.