Middle East

Iran launches TV channel in Spanish

President Ahmadinejad with Raul Castro in Cuba (12 Jan 2012)
Image caption Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) has developed close ties with leaders including Cuba's Raul Castro (C)

Iran has launched an international-facing Spanish language TV channel.

Iran's Fars news agency said that Hispan TV has now officially started broadcasting 24 hours a day.

The Tehran government, which already runs the English-language Press TV, has accused other international media outlets of biased reporting.

Iran has allies in Latin America and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has recently returned from a tour of Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

Speaking at Hispan TV's launch, Mr Ahmadinejad said he hoped that the channel would become a public discussion forum.

In an address broadcast on Press TV, he said that he hoped the channel "would act as a rendez-vous so that all the justice-seekers and freedom-seekers and all the independent nations and thinkers and scholars and artists... would have the opportunity to engage in dialogue".

He concluded his speech in Spanish, saying "Viva Espana, viva America Latina", and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent a message hailing the launch, according to AFP.

The United States has warned Latin American countries against closer relationships with Iran.

In December President Obama said that Venezuela had not benefited from its ties with Tehran. Venezuela, for its part, has spoken out against US sanctions on Iran, calling the moves "imperialist aggression".

In addition to Press TV and Hispan TV, Iran finances an Arabic language channel, al-Alam.

Regulators in the UK have revoked Press TV's broadcasting licence, saying the outlet breached rules on editorial control.

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