Iranian president to visit Kenya in three-day Africa tour

Tehran's Foreign Ministry described Africa as a 'continent of opportunities'

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will visit Kenya on Wednesday after his trip was delayed for unspecified reasons. Reuters
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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is to visit Kenya on Wednesday as Tehran eyes closer ties with African nations.

Mr Raisi's visit was delayed by a day for unspecified reasons, with the president failing to appear at a press briefing.

The three-day trip to Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe is first visit to Africa by an Iranian leader in 11 years.

It comes as Tehran looks to develop its international presence in the shadow of US and European sanctions, which have increased amid its weapon supplies to Russia and crackdown on anti-regime protesters, more than 500 of whom have been killed since September.

Last week, it joined the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation with China and Russia, and restored ties with Saudi Arabia in March after a seven-year rift.

Mr Raisi was scheduled to hold a press conference with Kenyan President William Ruto on Tuesday morning, but neither showed up.

The Kenyan government later confirmed he would arrive on Wednesday, when the presidents will hold bilateral talks and finalise agreements between the two countries.

There was no reason given for the delay, and no immediate comment from Tehran.

Mr Raisi's visit to Uganda "is aimed at strengthening cooperation and trade," a spokesman for Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told AFP.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told reporters that Africa was a “continent of opportunities," describing the trip as a "new starting point" on various fronts.

Senior businesspeople will join the presidential delegation on the trip, which will also involve attending a business forum in Uganda, Mr Kanani said.

The president will also meet his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa.

He met with Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf on Saturday, and has also sought to rekindle relations with Egypt and Morocco.

In June, Mr Raisi undertook a Latin American tour that included Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba before travelling to Indonesia.

Updated: July 11, 2023, 3:46 PM