President off to Iran

Mabasa Sasa Editor, Sunday Mail
President Mugabe left Harare last night for Tehran to join fellow world leaders and officials from 100 countries for the inauguration of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. Zimbabwe’s Head of State and Government is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Senior Government officials. Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is Acting President.

Iranian legislator Mr Alireza Rahimi said President Rouhani’s second term inauguration would be the biggest the Middle Eastern country has ever witnessed, with the day of the ceremony itself having been declared a national holiday.

President Rouhani was first elected Iran’s leader in 2013 and he won another term in May with 57 percent of the vote.

The huge turnout at such a high-level, Mr Rahimi said, would send “an important message” to the world at a time the United States is sabre rattling and trying to incite international opinion against Iran.

The US and its Western allies have for long opposed Iran’s civil nuclear development programme, claiming that it has aggressive, military overtones.

In July 2015, the feuding parties, encompassing Iran and the P5+1 — Russia, China the US, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany — inked the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to ease tensions but American president, Donald Trump, has been opposed to the Middle Eastern country developing any nuclear capabilities.

The US has maintained economic sanctions on Iran, grouping it along with Zimbabwe and North Korea as part of an “axis of evil”.

Zimbabwe — which is similarly sanctioned by the US — and Iran have enjoyed cordial political relations for more than 30 years now, and the two countries have lately been exploring ways of translating this into deeper economic ties.

The late Vice-President and national hero, Dr Simon Muzenda, set the ball rolling in 1979 when he visited Tehran soon after the Iranian revolution and Zimbabwe established an embassy in that country in 2003.

Since that first contact on the eve of Zimbabwe’s Independence, four Iranian leaders have visited Zimbabwe and President Mugabe has reciprocated an equal number of times.

The countries have been trying to grow cooperation in areas such as agri-related technologies, textiles, SMEs and ICTs.

Recently, Iran’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Ahmad Erfanian, underscored the need to raise the volume of bilateral trade to overcome the illegal Western sanctions.

Cooperation is largely guided by the Zimbabwe-Iran Joint Commission, and has also included availing of scholarships for Zimbabweans to study in Iran.

Article Source: The Herald