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US: Iran 'flailing' for friends in Latin America

Atta Kenare / AFP - Getty Images

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flashes a victory sign in Tehran on Thursday.

The Obama administration on Friday called Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Latin American tour a sign of desperation as international sanctions increasingly isolate Tehran over its nuclear program.

The State Department said that Ahmadinejad's planned visit to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador showed Iran was "desperate for friends" and that “now is not the time to be deepening ties” with Tehran.

Ahmadinejad was scheduled to arrive in Venezuela on Sunday, NBC News reported.

Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the international community should make clear to Iran that it will only grow more isolated if it fails to comply with demands to come clean about its nuclear ambitions.

"As the regime feels increasing pressure, it is desperate for friends and flailing around in interesting places to find new friends,” Nuland said. “We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties, with Iran."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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