Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will kick off his Africa tour a day late on Wednesday, 12 July 2023 the foreign ministry in Nairobi said after he failed to appear at a press event.
The rare visit to Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe marks the latest diplomatic effort by the Islamic Republic to forge new alliances and ease its international isolation.
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The three-day trip will be the first by an Iranian president to Africa in 11 years. Raisi was scheduled to hold a press conference with Kenyan President William Ruto on Tuesday morning, but neither showed up.
“The schedule of the president has now been reviewed to allow for finalisation of key MoUs (memoranda of understanding) that are central to the furtherance of relations,” Kenya’s foreign ministry said.
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“The Iranian president will now arrive tomorrow for a state visit,” it said, adding that the two leaders would hold bilateral talks at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) on Wednesday.
A Ugandan official said Raisi’s trip to the East African country would proceed as previously scheduled, with his two-day visit due to begin on Wednesday.
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Iranian president will hold talks with Museveni
President Yoweri Museveni and his Iranian counterpart will hold talks, address the media and a business forum during the visit, said Faruk Kirunda, deputy press secretary to the Ugandan leader. The visit “is aimed at strengthening cooperation and trade,” Kirunda told AFP.
According to the official IRNA news agency, Raisi will head a delegation that includes the foreign minister as well as senior businesspeople. He is also scheduled to meet Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
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On Monday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani described the trip as “a new turning point” which could bolster economic and trade ties with African nations. He also said the rapprochement is based “on common political views” between Tehran and the three African countries.
Iran has stepped up its diplomacy in recent months to reduce its isolation and offset the impact of crippling sanctions reimposed since the 2018 withdrawal of the United States from a painstakingly negotiated nuclear deal.
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Iran became a member of SCO
On Saturday, Raisi welcomed Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf in a bid to boost ties with Algiers. Last week, Iran became a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which includes Russia, China and India. In March, Tehran agreed to restore ties with regional rival Saudi Arabia under a China-mediated deal.
It has since been looking to re-establish relations with other countries in the region, including Egypt and Morocco. In June, Raisi undertook a Latin American tour that included Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba before a trip to Indonesia.
© Agence France-Presse