Ahmadinejad starts Latin America tour in Venezuela

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Venezuela Saturday at the head of a Latin American tour where he hopes to strengthen ties with leftist governments seeking to reduce Washington's influence in the region. Ahmadinejad was given a red-carpet welcome at Caracas' international airport, where Vice President Jorge Rodriguez greeted him at the start of a trip that will also take him to Nicaragua for meetings with newly inaugurated President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla, and to Ecuador, where President-elect Rafael Correa will be sworn in Monday. The Iranian leader will meet Saturday with President Hugo Chavez, whom Ahmadinejad described as "brother" during his first visit to Venezuela in September. Officials did not provide details on what he and Chavez planned to discuss.