Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has left Tehran on a four-nation tour of West Africa to discuss possible ways of expanding relations.
Heading a politico-economic delegation, Zarif left Tehran for the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Sunday on the first leg of his tour which will also take him to Ghana, Guinea-Conakry and Mali.During his six-day visit, the Iranian minister is to hold talks with senior officials of the four African countries and also take part in meetings with businesspeople.
Zarif has already paid two official visits to Africa.
He visited four East African countries – Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania – in February 2015, marking the opening of a new chapter in Tehran’s ties with Africa.
The Iranian foreign minister also made a visit to North African countries of Tunisia and Algeria in August 2015.
Iran already has a significant presence in agricultural and economic projects in some African countries and has been a major contributor to humanitarian missions across the continent over the past years.
Iran’s active diplomacy in Africa has been construed as a sign of the country’s willingness to engage deeper in Africa’s political and economic equations; a move that can secure the country’s foothold in the region following the removal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.
On January 16, Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia – plus Germany started implementing a nuclear agreement that they reached on July 14, 2015.
Under the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), all nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran by the European Union, the Security Council and the US would be lifted. Iran has, in return, put some limitations on its nuclear activities.