TEHRAN, Apr. 3 (Mehr News Agency) - Iran and Venezuela officially launched their first joint bank in Tehran on Friday. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez attended the inaugural ceremony.
The move took place during Chávez's trip to Iran as part of the agreement signed between the two countries in March 2007, the Mehr News Agency reported.
The bank, which the countries say will be an alternative to institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, is to start operating with an initial capital of $1.2 billion with each party funding half of the sum.
The two presidents also called for "fair trade" over free trade in global transactions.
The officials made the comments during a meeting at the presidential palace in Tehran on the first day of an official visit that both countries have labeled "strategic."
"I believe the current crisis goes well beyond an economic crisis. It's more a spiritual and moral crisis," Chávez said of the global financial meltdown. "It's like a cancer that has spread and affects relations between our nations."
Ahmadinejad and Chávez said the best approach to dealing with the global economic crisis was to take a new tack in relations between countries, citing "close and deep cooperation" between Iran and Venezuela as an example.
"Our countries must strengthen their trade alliance to free ourselves from global free trade and create trade that is fair and complementary," Chávez said.
"Now that the world is changing, the bilateral relations between Iran and Venezuela should be the model for a type of brotherly and constructive relationship for other countries in the world," Ahmadinejad noted.
Iran is one stop on a tour that already took Chávez to Qatar for an Arab-South American summit and will later take him to China and Japan.
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