Saturday, November 25, 2006

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe Returns From Iran With New Economic Deals Involving Oil and Other Projects

President returns from Iran

News Editor

President Mugabe returned home early yesterday morning from a three-day State visit to Iran which saw Harare and Teheran sign six agreements to intensify political and economic co-operation.

Cde Mugabe and his delegation, which included the First Lady, Amai Grace Mugabe, and four Cabinet ministers, touched down just after midnight and were met by the Minister of Transport and Communications, Cde Chris Mushohwe, senior Government officials and service chiefs.

Bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and Iran are expected to be taken to a level higher following the agreements to co-operate in agriculture, oil industry, economic, technical and education aid.

The two countries’ delegations also issued a joint political communiqué and signed the minutes of their Fifth Joint Commission meeting, confirming their satisfaction at the outcome.

In the joint communiqué, the two countries emphasised the importance of expanding and strengthening mutual relations on political, economic and cultural co-operation and develop common positions on issues of mutual interest.

They agreed to increase exchange of technical and specialised delegations between them to strengthen mutual political, economic and cultural relations.

Zimbabwe and Iran also agreed to strengthen co-operation between the private sectors of the two countries and urged them to participate in the trade and economic activities between the two countries.

The two countries agreed to promote regional co-operation through organisations such as the African Union. Views were exchanged on the Middle East and the delegations noted with concern the massacre of Palestinians and recognised their inalienable right to self-determination.

They condemned the vicious crimes perpetrated by the Zionist regime and the silence by the international community over the killings of Palestinians. The two countries expressed worry over the situation in Iraq and its drifting towards a civil war and called for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops.

Zimbabwe and Iran showed their appreciation for the efforts of the AU to bring peace to conflict areas in Africa.

"Both sides agreed to continue their co-operation at the international level through the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations.

"Both sides reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right of all states signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without any discrimination," read the communiqué.

The two countries welcomed the co-operation by Iran with the International Atomic Energy Agency to resolve remaining issues and emphasised that no pressure or improper intervention be exerted on the IAEA fact-finding mission.

"Both sides strongly emphasised that concerns and differences should be resolved through dialogue and that the resumption of talks should be based on mutual respect and without any pre-conditions."

The two countries also emphasised the importance of equal treatment of different aspects of human rights issues including political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights as well as the right to development.

They criticised super power unilateralism and neo-colonialism and pledged to uphold principles of multilateralism as well as continue pressing for the reform of the United Nations and its organs particularly the Security Council.

President Mugabe wound up his visit by touring a tractor manufacturing plant in Tabriz.

Zimbabwe Signs Fuel Deal With Iran

By Peta Thornycroft
24 November 2006

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, center right, reviews an Iranian guard of honor with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center left, during an official welcoming ceremony in Tehran, Iran, 20 Nov. 2006

Zimbabwe's state press agency says President Robert Mugabe has secured a fuel deal with Iran during his state visit to Tehran this week. For VOA, Peta Thornycroft reports from Harare that Zimbabwe's state fuel supplier continues to be desperately short of fuel because the country lacks foreign currency for essential imports.

Mr. Mugabe has returned to Zimbabwe and says he has secured a pledge from Iran for its technicians to investigate whether it is possible to resuscitate the country's only oil refinery. The refinery, in Zimbabwe's eastern border town Mutare, was forced to close almost 40 years ago, when the world imposed trade and diplomatic sanctions against the then white ruled Rhodesia.

The refinery was built to process imported Iranian crude oil.

Now Zimbabwe depends on imported refined fuel, which it mainly gets by road from South Africa.

It says it has insufficient foreign currency to import fuel in bulk and pump a minimum of 30,000 liters at a time along a pipeline from nearest port, Beira in Mozambique to Zimbabwe.

Mr. Mugabe said during his visit to Tehran he has also secured several other agreements for direct aid and Iranian assistance with energy, education technology and agricultural projects, but no details have been revealed either in Harare or Tehran. Zimbabwe has also said it will allow Iran to explore unspecified mineral deposits in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's energy and power development minister, Mike Nyambuya, said the Iranians made a number of proposals to meet Zimbabwe's needs in fuel and oil products, which were welcome.

Mr. Mugabe was hailed as a hero in Tehran for his anti-West stance. The Iranian president said, "We are going to stand side by side with the government and people of Zimbabwe."

Iran is one of the countries Mugabe has been warming to as part of the "Look East" policy, partly forced by Zimbabwe's isolation from the West over controversial land reforms and allegedly fraud-marred elections in 2000 and 2002.

Mr. Mugabe claims that Western sanctions have brought Zimbabwe's economy to its knees.

The United States and the European Union have refused to issue travel visas to Mr. Mugabe and leaders in the ruling Zanu PF party, but trade between Zimbabwe and the west continues normally. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has branded Zimbabwe and Iran as among the world's "outposts of tyranny."

Zimbabwe's economy began collapsing after the commercial agricultural sector, which provided 40 percent of annual foreign exchange, was decimated during the past six years.

Since 2000, Mr. Mugabe took more than 4,000 white-owned commercial farms and gave them to members of the ruling elite and landless peasants.

Agricultural economists say statistics show that Zimbabwe's farming production has slumped to a fifth of what it was prior to the land seizures.

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Pan-African News Wire said...

‘Zim, SA must forge closer ties’

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE and South Africa should forge closer political and economic co-operation to strengthen their bilateral relations, the Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Cde Didymus Mutasa has said.

He said this when he officially opened the Second Session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security.

Cde Mutasa said the commission, established last year, had become an important platform for collective dialogue and effective mechanism for pragmatic co-operation between the two countries.

"This demonstrates our wish to find a sustainable, mutually beneficial and everlasting solution to common multi-faceted challenges that we face as neighbours," said Cde Mutasa.

The commission should continue providing both countries with security in the new world order.

"His Excellency President Mugabe once stated that in the political field, the new era of a naked, aggressive uni-polar system which has resulted in some European countries ganging together with the USA to impose their will on smaller, weaker, poor nations, has become a constant threat to the sovereignty and independence of small states like ours," said the minister.

As a result of this, Cde Mutasa said, it was important for countries in the sub-region to strengthen their co-operation by adopting the "injure-one injure-all policy" that saw the Frontline States and then Sadc prevail against colonialism and apartheid.

"Counter-measures are, therefore, only possible if we sharpen our intelligence-gathering capacity to deal with these challenges very firmly," said Cde Mutasa.

He urged officials from both countries to maintain close contact for their people’s benefit.

South African Defence Minister Mr Mosiuoa Lekota commended the Zimbabwean Defence Ministry for training that country’s fighter pilots, saying such co-operation should be further strengthened.

He also urged Southern African countries to rally behind South Africa’s hosting of the cricket World Cup finals next year.

He said both countries’ defence and security organs should co-ordinate their efforts in view of terrorism threats and ensure that the event would be successful.

At the end of the meeting, the joint commission came up with several recommendations.

Cde Mutasa and Mr Lekota held a joint Press conference to announce positions that had emerged from the discussions.

Cde Mutasa said the commission had commended the existing co-operation between the security and law enforcement agencies of the two countries.

"We urge these institutions to strengthen communication and sharing of information to ensure the successful combating of organised and cross-border crimes," said Cde Mutasa.

The hosting of the 2010 World Cup soccer finals by South Africa was discussed with emphasis made for the Sadc region to co-operate on all fronts to ensure that the tournament is held in a secure and safe environment.

The commission also commended the existing military co-operation stressing the importance of training and joint exercises with a view to achieving inter-operational ability between the two defence forces.

The South African delegation expressed appreciation for the role played by Airforce of Zimbabwe instructors in training South African fighter pilots.

The commission further commended the undertaking by the South African National Defence Forces to assist their counterparts in Zimbabwe in demining the Sengwe corridor by providing emergency medical facilities at Musina in support of the development of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

However, the commission expressed concern that the region had witnessed an increase in the number of legal and illegal immigrants from Africa and the rest of the world and in this regard stressed the need for the harmonisation of border control mechanisms by the two countries.

"The commission also noted with concern the existence of organised syndicates and resolved to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to law enforcement in order to curb the practice.

"As for the traditional challenges arising from smuggling of precious stones and minerals, cigarettes and other contraband, the commission resolved to strengthen the liaison that exists at provincial and operational level."

The commission also hailed the successful holding of elections in both Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which were ruled as largely free and fair by local, regional and international observers.

However, the commission expressed concern on violence in the DRC and urged all parties to respect the verdict of the electorate.

The third session of the commission will be held in South Africa next year.