Iran and Zimbabwe have signed 12 agreements to boost bilateral relations as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi wrapped up a three-country African tour.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa greeted Raisi as “my brother” on the tarmac after the Iranian leader’s plane landed on Thursday in the capital, Harare.
Hundreds of people holding welcome banners, including many from the Southern African country’s Muslim community, turned out at Robert Mugabe International Airport.
“When you see him, you see me. When you see me, you see him,” Mnangagwa told a crowd of people waving Zimbabwean and Iranian flags who had gathered around the two heads of state.
“When we went to war, Iran was our friend,” said Mnangagwa, referring to Zimbabwe’s fight against Britain for independence, which it attained in 1980. “I am happy you have come to show solidarity.”
The 12 agreements signed later in the day include plans to create a tractor manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe with an Iranian company and a local partner. Others map out cooperation in energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications as well as research, science and technology projects.
Both countries are under United States sanctions, and Raisi’s trip to Africa, where he also stopped in Kenya and Uganda, comes as Iran tries to shore up diplomatic support and ease its international isolation.
“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 in translated comments in Zimbabwe.
For his part, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe welcomed “investments in several sectors of our economy” without specifying how much investment his country was expecting from Iran.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani has described Raisi’s tour as “a new turning point” that 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 also signed agreements with Kenya and Uganda on Wednesday.
Raisi’s African tour follows a visit in June to three Latin American countries also hit with US sanctions: Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
The last visit by an Iranian leader to Zimbabwe was in 2010 by then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.