The Herald (Harare)

9 April 2010

Zimbabwe: Ahmadinejad to Open ZITF

Harare — PRESIDENT of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will officially open the 51st edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo on April 23.

Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity Mr George Charamba revealed this after Tehe-ran's incoming ambassador to Harare, Mr Mohammed Pour Najaf, presented his credentials to President Mugabe at State House yesterday.

"President Ahmadinejad will open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair this year on April 23," Mr Charamba said.

The ZITF will run from April 20 to April 24.

Zambia's President Rupiah Banda officially opened the 50th edition of ZITF last year.

Speaking to journalists after meeting President Mugabe, Ambassador Pour Najaf hailed Zimbabwe-Iran ties.

"Zimbabwe and Iran enjoy strategic co-operation partnerships . . .

"The doors and gates of Iran are always open. You do not need a visa to visit Iran so we invite Zimbabweans to come to Iran," he said.

Ambassador Pour Najaf said Iran would soon establish a regional centre in Harare to supply tractors and irrigation equipment.

"Everything will be transferred from here including the tractors, irrigation equipment and many others," said Ambassador Pour Najaf.

Iran's new top diplomat in Harare holds a Master of Arts degree in English and has lectured at Iran's College of International Relations.

Before taking up his latest posting, he was advisor to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and also served at his country's embassy in South Africa.

Ambassador Pour Najaf takes over from Mr Rasoul Momeni who left Zimbabwe last month.

Zimbabwe and Iran enjoy cordial relations firmly rooted in the principles of sovereignty and self-determination and have been put under illegal sanctions in their pursuit to preserve those virtues.

Iran has been maligned by the West for its civilian nuclear energy programmes, while Zimbabwe has been targeted for redistributing land held by a few thousand whites to nearly 300 000 black families.

The two countries have embarked on several joint ventures; especially in agriculture, irrigation development, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

Iran is also considering assisting Zimbabwe in the energy sector through the rehabilitation of the Feruka Oil Refinery, setting up a transformer manufacturing plant and a hydroelectric power plant in Kariba.

Teheran has also invested in a helicopter repair and technicians' training facility in Zimbabwe.

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