Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country will support Zimbabwe in the face of Western sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and hundreds of senior ZANU-PF officials and supporters.
Mr. Ahmadinejad pledged his backing following a meeting yesterday in Teheran with State Minister for Security Didymus Mutasa. The Iranian leader praised Mr. Mugabe for resisting pressure from the West, whose sanctions he characterized as illegal.
Ahmadinejad urged the implementation of trade agreements between the two countries signed in 2006 when Mr. Mugabe visited Teheran. Zimbabwe is seeking Iranian help in building hospitals in the provinces, and health exchanges.
Democracy and Governance Manager Joy Mabenge of the Institute for a Democratic Alternative in Zimbabwe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that Zimbabweans should be wary of being used by Iran as a pawn in its political standoff with the West.
Commentator Khuli Mathulela Sibanda told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo there is little Iran can do to help Zimbabwe where the sanctions are concerned, given that it, too, is under international restrictions over its development of nuclear capabilities.