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Iran pledges to shore-up Zimbabwe military
11/03/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
Looking for help ... Emmerson Mnangagwa
 
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IRAN will help Zimbabwe strengthen its military, the country’s defence minister has said.

Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi made the pledge during a meeting with Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa in Tehran.

"We are ready to reinvigorate Zimbabwe's defence power," Vahidi said on Sunday, adding the assistance was needed to help defend the country against threats from the West.

He also referred to the defence cooperation between the two countries in the past, and stressed Iran's readiness to share its experiences with Harare in other areas.

Mnangagwa, for his part, underlined Zimbabwe's enthusiasm for the expansion of cooperation with Iran which is already helping set up a Helicopter repair centre in Harare.

Zimbabwe has been looking to rebuild its largely Western- equipped military which was left exposed after the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions against the country.

The country’s air force was to ground aircraft acquired from Britain after failing to secure key spare parts because of the sanctions.

Military procurement has since been shifted to friendly countries such as China as part of a so-called ‘look east’ policy aimed at reducing reliance on the West.

China is also financing the construction of a defence college in Zimbabwe and last Thursday the country's naval chief Admiral Tong Shipping was in Harare for talks on further cooperation with senior government officials.

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa who arrived in Tehran on Saturday also met the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

Salehi said Tehran was keen to expand already strong economic and military cooperation with Zimbabwe.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration has been working to strengthen relations with African countries.

Tehran hosted a large number of government and private sector officials from more than 40 African states for a two-day 'Iran-Africa Forum' in September 2010.

MNANGAGWA VISITING TEHRAN



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