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Iran, Venezuela plan to build rival to Panama Canal

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

The recent border dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua is a sign of an ambitious plan by Venezuela, Iran and Nicaragua to create a “Nicaragua Canal” linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that would rival the existing Panama Canal.

Costa Rica says that [in November], Nicaraguan troops entered its territory along the San Juan River – the border between the two nations. Nicaragua had been conducting channel deepening work on the river when the incident occurred.

Sources in Latin America have told Haaretz that the border incident and the military pressure on Costa Rica, a country without an army, are the first step in a plan formulated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, with funding and assistance from Iran, to create a substitute for the strategically and economically important Panama Canal.

The plan has aroused concern in Washington, and the U.S. has started behind the scenes efforts to foil it.

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla called for a special session of the Organization of American States, located in Washington, but, after a day of talks, no resolution was reached. During the talks, Venezuela supported Nicaragua’s position while Panama strongly opposed it.

Read the rest at Haaretz.com

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