/ 26 September 2007

Zim, Iran seek ‘coalition for peace’

The leaders of Zimbabwe and Iran are looking to form a self-styled ”coalition for peace” after receiving a joint tongue-lashing from United States President George Bush, officials said on Wednesday.

The government in Harare confirmed President Robert Mugabe and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad discussed the formation of such a coalition on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where Bush delivered a harsh assessment of their regimes on Tuesday.

”The United States and its allies are so bloodthirsty they don’t want to see peace anywhere in the world,” said Zimbabwe Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga.

”Our leaders are saying there is need for like-minded countries to come together and form a coalition that will discuss constructive developmental issues.”

The government mouthpiece Herald newspaper quoted Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United Nations, Boniface Chidyausiku, as saying Mugabe and Ahmadinejad discussed ”areas of mutual interest” in New York.

”The leaders also discussed the need to come up with a coalition for peace in response to the aggression of global bullies,” Chidyausiku added.

Isolated by his former allies in the West after being accused of rigging his re-election in 2002, Mugabe has forged new alliances with countries in Asia as well as buttressed ties with traditional US foes such as Cuba and Iran.

In his speech to the General Assembly, Bush said the people of Zimbabwe needed help to free themselves from suffering under a ”tyrannical regime” while the US president named Iran among a list of ”brutal regimes”.

The US is leading efforts for more UN sanctions against Iran to curtail its nuclear programme.

Ahmadinejad arrived in New York with a blitz of speaking engagements and media interviews, capturing much of the spotlight from other leaders in town for the General Assembly.

The US accuses Iran of supporting terrorism and supplying arms to insurgents in Iraq, and is pushing for a third UN Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran but faces opposition from China and Russia. – Sapa-AFP