Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has commended President Robert Mugabe for resisting alleged political interference by the Western powers, pledging Tehran’s continued support for Zimbabwe.
Speaking with President Mugabe in Teheran on Monday on the sidelines of summit of the Group of 15, an offshoot of the Non-Aligned Movement, Khamenei also applauded what he called strong, deep-rooted and friendly ties between Iran and Zimbabwe, which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited last month, making similar statements.
President Mugabe's cultivation of ties with Teheran has become a source of discomfort for some of his partners in the unity government in Harare. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai objected to Mr Ahmadinejad's Harare visit.
The Islamic republic is at loggerheads with Western countries who have pressured Teheran on its program to enrich uranium, suspecting Tehran intends to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities.
The summit was attended by the presidents of Algeria, Brazil, Senegal and Sri Lanka in addition to Zimbabwe. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez canceled at the last minute citing illness and a heavy workload.
Addressing the one-day gathering, Mr. Mugabe launched a broadside at the United States and Britain, accusing them of “abusing the United Nations Security Council to bully and threaten smaller countries.” He reiterated his support for Iran’s controversial nuclear program, which he had similarly endorsed during Ahmadinejad's visit.
Khamenei rallied developing countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia to strengthen ties to push development.
"The meddling trait of world powers is the scourge of humanity and the only counter measure against this is increased cooperation between independent states," Press TV of Iran quoted Khamenei as saying.
Commenting on Khamenei's praise for Mr. Mugabe, political analyst George Mkhwanazi told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that such admiration of the 86-year-old Zimbabwean leader was misguided and misplaced.
Editor's Note: This article corrects an earlier version which reported that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attended the G-15 summit in Teheran. Mr. Chavez was expected but did not attend.