Iran FM in Kenya to boost trade ties

Zarif told AA Iran is eager to explore all possibilities for cooperation with Kenya in various areas

By Magdalene Mukami

NAIROBI (AA) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif arrived in Nairobi on Monday as part of a regional tour aimed at boosting trade relations between Kenya and Tehran.

"Since the Islamic revolution, we have been friends with the people of Kenya," Zarif told The Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of his meeting with Iranian businessmen and investors.

"Kenya is one of the most important business partners that we have in Africa," he asserted.

Zarif, who arrived in Nairobi earlier Monday, met with Iranian businessmen and investors who briefed him on the challenges they faced while conducting businesses in Kenya.

He later co-chaired a Kenya-Iran Business Forum at which he voiced his country's desire to boost business ties with the East Africa nation.

The top diplomat said Kenya and Iran had agreed to remove any obstacles that might hinder the establishment of fruitful bilateral business relations.

"The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is eager to explore all possibilities for cooperation in various areas," he told AA.

"I am talking about educational cooperation, technical cooperation, health cooperation and trade and investment cooperation, among others," Zarif asserted.

He expressed confidence that the interest and enthusiasm displayed by the Iranian business community would lead to prosperous bilateral relations.

"We want to broaden relations in agriculture, in eco-tourism, and in the economic and political ties between our two countries," the Iranian FM said.

Amina Mohammed, Kenyan cabinet secretary of the Foreign Ministry and International Trade, for her part, said Kenya appreciated its traditionally cordial relations with Iran.

"We acknowledge that relationship and we are very grateful for it," she told AA.

"This event [the Kenya-Iran Business Forum] signifies commitment by both our countries to deepen bilateral relations," said Mohammed.

She asserted that trade between Kenya and Tehran had doubled between 2003 and 2013.

"I am talking about a jump from $30 million to $61.6 million in that timeframe," Kenya's top diplomat told AA.

Iranian Ambassador to Kenya Malek Hossein Givzad, meanwhile, said the business forum would provide an opportunity for promoting economic and trade relations between the two countries.

He told AA that a high-level business delegation from Iran would visit Kenya as soon as next month in an effort to promote business relations.

In 2009, Kenya and Iran signed bilateral agreements to promote investments, customs cooperation and air service.

In 2012, Mohammed Reza Rahimi, the first vice-president of Iran, visited Kenya on a similar bid to boost relations in terms of agriculture, energy, tourism and health.

Zarif is currently on an Africa tour that will also take him to Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania.

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