Significance of Zarif’s Africa Trip Underlined

Significance of Zarif’s Africa Trip UnderlinedSignificance of Zarif’s Africa Trip Underlined

A senior diplomat said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's West African tour has the potential to take Iran's relations with the black continent to a higher level, as the July 2015 nuclear deal has opened up plenty of opportunities for economic cooperation.

Director General of the Foreign Ministry's Department for African Affairs Hossein Molla-Abdollahi made the statement in an interview with ISNA in Tehran on Saturday.

"The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the formal name of the deal between Iran and world powers) has created good opportunities to boost interaction with members of the global community," he said, adding that African states are not an exception.

Pointing to the lifting of international sanctions on Iran under the nuclear deal, the diplomat hoped that "in the absence of banking, insurance and transport obstacles, we will see a rise in economic collaboration with African states".

Molla-Abdollahi cautioned that the post-JCPOA opportunities, if not exploited quickly, will soon disappear.

"These opportunities, in a fluid international arena full of complicated and serious rivalries, will diminish if not seized in a timely manner," he said. "We should use them carefully and rapidly to expand relations."


*** Positive Will

In his six-day tour, which is to start on Sunday, Zarif is scheduled to visit Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry and Mali.

Molla-Abdollahi said the top diplomat, in his meetings with high-ranking African officials, will confer on ways to upgrade bilateral economic cooperation.

"A large economic delegation comprising government officials and representatives of private firms will accompany him in the trip," he said. "These private companies have either worked with African partners or have the potential to set up partnerships."

Molla-Abdollahi said Iran and African governments have a "positive will" to enhance relations and this can be a strong incentive for their private sectors to work with each other.

"Exports of technical and engineering services, especially in the oil, gas and electricity industries as well as non-oil goods, including agricultural and industrial equipment and provision of medical and tourism services" are among the best areas for cooperation, according to the Foreign Ministry official.

Molla-Abdollahi said in each country, a one day economic conference will be held, in which views will be exchanged on prospects of cooperation and businessmen will meet face to face to explore ways of striking partnerships.

Back in February, Zarif took another tour of Africa, in which he travelled to East African states of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania, at the head of a high-ranking politico-economic delegation.