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Iran and Kenya leaders vow to deepen ties

THE leaders of Iran and Kenya pledged to strengthen ties as their governments signed a raft of trade agreements Wednesday during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s maiden visit to the East African nation.

The visit comes as the Islamic Republic tries to shore up diplomatic support to ease its international isolation, with Raisi also due to travel to Uganda and Zimbabwe this week on the first Africa tour by an Iranian leader in 11 years.

In addition to meeting Kenyan President William Ruto, Raisi will head to Uganda later Wednesday for talks with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni and see Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday.

Africa has emerged as a diplomatic battleground in recent months, with Russia and the West also trying to court support over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which has had a devastating economic impact on the continent, sending food prices soaring.

Western powers have also sought to deepen trade ties with the continent, along with India and China, which has been on an infrastructure spending spree in Africa.

Raisi described his visit to Kenya as “a turning point in the development of relations between (the) two countries”.

He said his talks with Ruto reflected “the determination and resolve of both countries for expansion of economic and trade cooperation, political cooperation, cultural cooperation”.

Ruto described Iran as “a critical strategic partner for Kenya” and said the two governments had signed five MoUs (memoranda of understanding) focusing on areas including information technology, investment promotion and fisheries.

“These memoranda will enhance and further deepen our bilateral relations for sustainable growth and development between our two countries.”

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