Mugabe backs Iran's nuclear programme

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday he backed Iran’s nuclear programme that has raised the threat of new United Nations sanctions against the Islamic state.

“Be also assured, comrade president, of Zimbabwe’s continuous support of Iran’s just cause on the nuclear issue,” Mugabe told Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at a dinner in Harare.

“Because of the principled positions we have taken at both the domestic and international level, Zimbabwe and Iran have been unjustly vilified and punished by Western countries,” Mugabe said.

“Today, both are victims of illegal and unjustified sanctions imposed by Western countries who seek to undermine our sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

Ahmadinejad arrived in Zimbabwe on Thursday for trade talks with Mugabe, sparking fresh tensions within Zimbabwe’s strained unity government as his partners in the Movement for Democratic Change denounced the visit.

Ahmadinejad’s visit is part of an Africa tour also scheduled to include a visit to UN Security Council member Uganda, where he will discuss Iran’s nuclear programme, according to Iranian state television.

The trip gains significance as world powers have stepped up pressure for a new round of UN sanctions against Iran.

Uganda currently holds one of the rotating seats on the Security Council.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has said Tehran plans to open talks with all 15 Security Council members in an effort to break a deadlock on a nuclear fuel supply deal that has put it at odds with Western powers.—Sapa-AFP

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