Visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday met Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to discuss ways of boosting bilateral ties between the two countries.
During the visit, the two countries signed three cooperation agreements on industry and trade, modernization of Zimbabwe agriculture and establishment of a Russian industrial zone in the southern African country.
Russia’s deputy minister of trade and industry Georgy Kalamanov signed the three agreements on behalf of Russia while Zimbabwe’s ministers of industry and agriculture signed the agreements.
Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting, Lavrov said he was on a five-nation tour of Africa to cement ties between Russia and Africa.
Lavrov has been to Namibia, Angola and Mozambique and is expected in Ethiopia Friday for talks with that country’s leadership and AU officials.
“We have joint cooperation with our African counterparts and we want to elevate our trade, economic and investment ties to a level which corresponds with the level of our political interaction,” said Lavrov.
He said he delivered a special message to Mnangagwa from Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he expressed Russia’s support to the new administration’s efforts in stabilizing the internal political situation and rebuilding the economy.
The two sides also discussed the 4 billion U.S. dollars Zimbabwe-Russia joint venture platinum project launched in 2014 and prospects about cooperation in the diamond industry.
“We laid particular emphasis on the implementation of the joint venture project of exploring platinum in the Great Dyke, which is going to be biggest platinum venture in the world,” he said.
The two sides, Lavrov said, also discussed military and technical cooperation.
Lavrov stressed that Russia upholds the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of any nation and would therefore not interfere in the domestic, political affairs of Zimbabwe which is due to hold polls mid-year.
“We believe it is up to the people of Zimbabwe to determine their future and I believe this is what they are going to do and express themselves in the upcoming elections,” Lavrov said.
Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo said the visit by the Russian foreign minister has re-energized and escalated the level of bilateral ties between the two nations.
“We are hoping to increase the inflow of Russian tourists into Zimbabwe as you know we recently changed their visa category from category C to B,” Moyo said.
The new category allows Russian visitors to Zimbabwe to obtain their visas on arrival.
Moyo also urged closer cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries.