Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attended a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Caracas on Saturday (July 20) where he told gathered media that "the government of the United States is isolated." Tensions between Iran and the West ratcheted up on Saturday as Britain denounced the Iranian seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker, rejecting Tehran's explanation that it had seized the vessel on Friday (July 19) because it had been involved in an accident. The event in the global oil trade's most important waterway has been viewed in the West as a major escalation after three months of confrontation that has already taken Iran and the United States to the brink of war.
Prior to his travel to Venezuela, Zarif attended a meeting of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York. After Venezuela, he will also travel to Bolivia and Nicaragua. The Non-Aligned Movement is a Cold War-era bloc of some 120 nations that was formed a half-century ago by nations wanting to avoid aligning with the United States or the Soviet Union and which has dwindled in relevance over the years.