“Viva Ahmadinejad!”

Mr Ahmadinejad recently boasted that, while the West had been trying to isolate Iran, it had entrenched itself in America’s “backyard”. Tehran has opened five new diplomatic missions and signed hundreds of cooperation deals in the region, including some 200 with Venezuela in the areas of trade, energy and defence.

Clasping hands with Mr Chavez after a meeting in which 70 new projects were agreed, Mr Ahmadinejad said the allies had formed “a front which is bravely resisting the enemies of humanity”.

The two countries would be “together until the end”, he pledged.