At the end of a three-day state visit to Zimbabwe, Iranian President Muhammad Khatami and Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, in a joint communique on Wednesday, "noted the dangers of nuclear and chemical proliferation and emphasised the need to ban the use of weapons of mass destruction".

"They welcomed the international initiatives to create nuclear-free zones, especially in the Middle East and Africa. They agreed and emphasised the right of nuclear non-proliferation treaty member states to the peaceful use of nuclear energy."

'Outposts of tyranny'

US President George Bush this week refused to rule out the use of force against Iran if it was not more forthcoming about its nuclear programme.

Iran and Zimbabwe were cited by US secretary of state designate Condoleezza Rice when she referred to "outposts of tyranny" around the world.

Khatami earlier pledged Iran would stand by Zimbabwe, battling international isolation over Mugabe's rule and pursuing relations with Asian and Muslim countries in a "Look East" policy.
  
"The visit has not only done us justice in regard to our policy of looking east but it has done us justice in the field of cooperation between our allies," Mugabe said.

The two countries signed agreements in the agricultural, telecommunications, transport and health sectors, including one to build an electric railway line linking Harare to the satellite town of Chitungwiza.