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Iran's president arrives in Nairobi for three-day Africa tour

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (C) inspects the guard of honour during his state visit at the State House in Nairobi on July 12, 2023.   -  
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Iran's president Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday for the start of a three-day Africa tour.

Raisi was welcomed by Kenyan president William Ruto at the presidential palace, a day later than initially planned. 

The visit on the continent is the first by an Iranian leader in 11 years, as Tehran seeks to ease its diplomatic isolation by finding new international allies. 

Raisi will continue the tour in Uganda and Zimbabwe, where he will meet his counterparts Yoweri Museveni and Emmerson Mnangagwa. 

Diplomatic battlefront

Africa is the centre of an increasingly tense diplomatic battlefront in recent months, with the West and Russia both attempting to win African countries over to their side as the war in Ukraine grinds on. 

Russia's invasion of Ukraine heavily impacted the African continent with sharp price increases, especially of food. 

Iran's visit is a "starting point" for new economic and trade ties between Tehran and African countries, according to the spokesperson for the country's Foreign Affairs minister, Nasser Kanani. 

The spokesperson also added on Monday that Iran and the three African countries visited this week have "common political views". 

New ties

Iran has reinforced its ties with China and Russia as relations with Western states remain tense. 

Last week, Iran joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a regional body created in 2001 with China and Russia founding members. 

After a visit to Indonesia in May, Raisi toured three "friendly countries" in Latin America in June - Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba - where he denounced "imperial powers", notably the United States.

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