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Iran's Raisi visits Zimbabwe amid tensions with West

July 13, 2023

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was in Zimbabwe on Thursday, wrapping up his three-nation African tour. The two countries are both under US sanctions, and have vowed to stand together.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi inspects the guard of honor upon his arrival for a state visit to Zimbabwe
Raisi's tour aimed at easing Iran's international isolation.Image: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was welcomed in Zimbabwe on Thursday by people singing songs criticizing the West.

Raisi was greeted at Harare airport as what was expected to be the last stop of his three-nation African tour

Hundreds of people waving Zimbabwean and Iranian flags had gathered outside the airport holding placards in their hands.

As both countries are under US sanctions, Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa urged the nations targeted by Western sanctions to band together. 

"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 Raisi.

Raisi is the highest profile leader to visit Zimbabwe, with the African nation set to hold elections next month. 

Iran signs MOU's with Zimbabwe

The two leaders signed 12 agreements on topics ranging from energy to telecommunications to strengthen bilateral ties.

The cooperation agreements included memorandums of understanding (MOU) for agriculture, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, research, science and technology projects. 

Ebrahim Raisi is welcomed with an official ceremony by President of Zimbabwe
Raisi described Africa as "the continent of capacities and potentials."Image: Iranian Presidency/AA/picture alliance

"We welcome investments in several sectors of our economy,” Mnangagwa told reporters after the signing ceremony.

He did not say how much investment Zimbabwe was expecting from Iran. 

"Our cooperation with Zimbabwe and our cooperation with the African continent, which is a continent full of potential, could help us for mutual advances," Raisi said. 

Iran gathering nations against US sanctions

Hinting at the US sanctions imposed on both nations, Iranian President Raisi said his country would work hard to forge closer economic ties. 

On his trip to Latin America last month, he also reached out to other nations facing US sanctions. 

Raisi has already been to Kenya and Uganda this week where he held talks with his counterparts.

Iran has been subjected to a new set of sanctions by the US for allegedly supplying Russia with drones that have been used in the war with Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, US and EU sanctions on Zimbabwe go back 20 years and are largely due to allegations of human rights abuses under former president Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa headed Mugabe's secret service and was defense minister, among other roles, before becoming president.

ara/wd (AFP, AP, Reuters)