Iran to engage deeper in Africa as Zarif begins tour

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has embarked on a diplomatic tour to East Africa in what could be seen as the beginning of a new chapter in Tehran’s ties with African countries.

Heading a political and diplomatic delegation, Zarif left Tehran for the region to visit Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania.

The four-leg tour kicked off as Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs was in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, where a summit of the African Union was held earlier.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has held high-profile meetings with some notable African leaders, a sign of the fact that Iran is eagerly working to expand its domain of influence in the region and open up a new chapter in relations with African countries.

The senior Iranian diplomat met South African President Jacob Zuma on the sidelines of the 24th Summit of the African Union earlier in the day. During the meeting, he said that expansion of ties with the country has been high on agenda for Iran over the past years.

The South African leader, for his part, expressed satisfaction over growing ties between the two nations, saying that he would soon pay a visit to Tehran upon an invitation by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s official.

He also held meetings with presidents of Ghana, Gabon, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar.

The Iranian diplomat also held talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to mark the first diplomatic contact between officials of the two countries since Sisi took office in June 2014.

During the meeting, the Iranian envoy censured the recent terrorist attack in Egypt’s volatile Sinai Peninsula and underlined the need for cooperation and national conciliation among all Egyptian political groups. He also urged Muslim countries to close ranks in countering Takfiri groups operating in the region.

Iran has a relatively significant presence in agricultural and economic projects in some African countries and has been a major contributor to humanitarian missions in the continent over the past years.

The intensified diplomacy on Africa is a sign of Iran’s willingness to engage deeper in African political and economic equations, a move that can bolster the country’s foothold in the region significantly.

By Press TV

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