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Zimbabwe, Iran ink ‘record’ 12 MoUs as President Raeisi ends Africa tour

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) and Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi (L) oversee the signing of 12 documents in Harare on July 13, 2023.

President Ebrahim Raeisi has wrapped up his three-nation African tour with a visit to Zimbabwe where the two sides signed 12 memorandums of understanding to strengthen bilateral ties.

Raeisi, who visited Kenya and Uganda earlier in the week, met Thursday with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa who urged nations targeted by Western sanctions to band together.

The two presidents signed "a record" 12 agreements on topics ranging from energy to telecommunications, Mnangagwa said. These will help Zimbabwe access innovation and technology from Iran and envisage the creation of a tractor factory to support agricultural mechanization, he added.

The two countries also signed cooperation agreements for energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications as well as research, science and technology projects.

President Raeisi touched on US sanctions imposed on Iran and Zimbabwe, saying the Islamic Republic would work hard to forge closer economic ties.

"It is critically important that we, the victims of Western sanctions, are talking to each other... that we show them that we're united," Mnangagwa told a press briefing after talks with Raeisi.

"I am happy you have come to show solidarity," Mnangagwa told President Raeisi on arrival, calling him "my brother".

Hundreds of people waving Zimbabwean and Iranian flags had gathered at Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare during the morning to greet President Raeisi.

The Iranian president has already been to Kenya and Uganda this week holding talks with his counterparts William Ruto and Yoweri Museveni.

On Thursday, Raeisi described Africa as "the continent of capacities and potentials", adding stronger cooperation would benefit "the advancement" of both parties.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kana’ani has described President Raeisi's continental tour as "a new turning point" which could bolster economic and trade ties with African nations.

He also said on Monday that Tehran and the three African countries share "common political views".

Iran's trade with Africa will increase to more than $2 billion this year from about $1.2 billion in recent years, its foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Raeisi's African visit, the first by an Iranian president since 2013, follows a visit in June to three Latin American countries also saddled with US sanctions.

'Very useful partnership'

Senior political analyst Mohammad Marandi told Press TV from Harare that Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya are all very rich in agriculture and geographically well situated for Iranian markets.

“On the other hand, they are very interested in importing Iranian industrial goods as well as Iranian services. So, it is a very useful partnership.

“It’s something that has not adequately been pursued in the past,” he said, adding the partnership bodes well with Iran’s policy of enhancing South-South cooperation.

Marandi described Kenya a “business hub” in eastern Africa, saying enhancing trade and business with the country means basically enhancing relations with a host of countries in the region.

The three countries visited by the Iranian president are “not only very ideal for exporting goods to Iran and importing goods from Iran, but also - since Iran is developing a North-South transport corridor to Russia and to northern Europe as well as developing a corridor to Central Asia and to China - the markets in Africa can be connected to the markets in Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia and China”, he said.

“So not only will we see imports and exports, but most probably, we will see in the long run a lot of goods passing through Iran or being re-exported from Iran.

“So it is both very important from a bilateral perspective and from a multilateral perspective.”   

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