Iran’s president to set out on rare Africa tour

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will embark Tuesday on a rare Africa tour in the latest diplomatic efforts to reduce the Islamic Republic’s isolation by forging new alliances.

The three-day trip -- which includes Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe -- will be the first by an Iranian president to Africa in 11 years.

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Raisi will head a delegation that includes Iran’s foreign minister as well as senior businesspeople. He is scheduled to meet with presidents from the three countries, according to the official IRNA news agency.

On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani described the trip as “a new turning point” which could bolster economic and trade ties with African nations.

He also said the rapprochement is based “on common political views” between Tehran and the three African countries.

Iran has stepped up its diplomacy in recent months to reduce its isolation and offset the impact of crippling sanctions reimposed since the 2018 withdrawal of the United States from a painstakingly negotiated nuclear deal.

On Saturday, Raisi welcomed Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf in a bid to boost relations with Algiers.

Last week, the Islamic Republic became a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which includes Russia, China, and India.

In March, Iran agreed to restore ties with its regional rival Saudi Arabia under a China-mediated deal. It has since been looking to reestablish ties with other countries in the region including Egypt and Morocco.

In June, Raisi set out on a Latin America tour that included Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba before a trip to Indonesia.

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