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Ahmadinejad: capitalism 'in decay'

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denounced capitalism during a speech at Cuba's University of Havana on the third leg of a trip to highlight friendships with his Latin American allies, most of them thorns in Washington's side.

Mr Ahmadinejad held a private meeting later with President Raul Castro and was expected to meet with Fidel Castro.

In all, he planned to spend less than 24 hours on the island before flying to Ecuador.

At the university, the Iranian leader railed against the United States and its allies and said heartless capitalism is the root cause of war.

"Thankfully we are already witnessing that the capitalist system is in decay," Mr Ahmadinejad said. "On various stages it has come to a dead end - politically, economically and culturally. You see that when it lacks logic, they turn to weapons to kill and destroy."

Mr Ahmadinejad, who received an honorary doctorate from the university, did not take questions or talk about a bombing earlier in Tehran that killed a nuclear scientist working at Iran's main uranium enrichment facility. Iran's government blamed the killing on Israel, the US and Britain. The US denied involvement.

The Iranian leader spoke warmly of his Cuban hosts, describing the relationship of the two countries as "solidarity between two revolutionary peoples", although the two revolutions could not have been more different.

Iran's ushered in a religious Islamic government, while Communist Cuba under Fidel Castro was officially atheist for decades.

Nevertheless, Iran and Cuba have found common cause in standing up to Washington. Fidel Castro, who is retired, has repeatedly warned that a confrontation pitting the US and Israel against Iran could result in a nuclear exchange.

Mr Ahmadinejad began his Latin America tour shortly after Washington imposed tougher sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme. He previously visited Venezuela and Nicaragua.

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