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Benedict XVI in a file photo
Benedict XVI in a file photo
Giacomo Galeazzi

VATICAN CITY - Three years ago, on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI's departure for the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, it was the murder of Luigi Padovese, the vicar apostolic of Turkey, which loomed over the trip. This time it is the killing of four U.S. diplomats in Benghazi and the uprising across the region against the controversial film that mocks the prophet Muhammad.

The apostolic trip of Benedict XVI to Lebanon, from Friday until Sunday, comes at a dramatic moment for the entire Middle East. The Pope's words will have a particular weight at a time when pressure from fundamentalists threatens to engulf the region in violence and close the door to democracy.

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Geopolitics

Venezuela-Iran: Maduro And The Axios Of Chaos In The Americas

With the complicity of leftist rulers in Venezuela, Bolivia and even Argentina, Iran's sanction-ridden regime is spreading its tentacles in South America, and could even undermine democracies.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visiting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran on June 11. Venezuela is one of Iran's closest allies, and both are subject to tough U.S. sanctions.

Julio Borges

-Analysis-

CARACAS —The dangers posed by Venezuela's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran is something we've warned about before. Though not new, the dangers have changed considerably in recent years.

They began under Venezuela's late leader, Hugo Chávez , when he decided to turn his back on the West and move closer to countries outside our geopolitical sphere. In 2005, Chávez and Iran's then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, signed collaborative agreements in areas beyond the economy, with goals that included challenging the West and spreading Iran's presence in Latin America.

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