AFP: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Mali on Tuesday for a 24-hour visit to boost ties between the two nations, Mali’s foreign ministry said.
BAMAKO (AFP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Mali on Tuesday for a 24-hour visit to boost ties between the two nations, Mali’s foreign ministry said.
Observers said the Iranian president would also use his stay to seek Mali’s support for its controversial uranium enrichment programme.
“The Iranian president arrived in Bamako on Tuesday for a 24-hour visit, aimed at consolidating relations between our two countries,” the foreign ministry’s protocol service department told AFP.
The visit had not been announced beforehand.
Upon his arrival, the Iranian head of state was welcomed by his Malian counterpart Amadou Toumani Toure.
According to the official programme Ahmadinejad was due to hold talks with Toure, and Malian businessmen on Tuesday ahead of the signing of agreements between the two countries.
“These are agreements of a political, diplomatic, and economic nature” said a Malian official.
Ahmadinejad is on Wednesday to make a short visit to Timbuktu 900 kilometres (562 miles) north-east of Bamako.
Last month, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution strengthening international sanctions against Iran due to its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
“It is clear that the Iranian president came to the mainland to seek the support of countries like Mali, who have influence,” a professor of political science at the University of Mali, Abdoulaye Diko, told AFP.
Ahmadinejad paid a state visit to Senegal in late 2009, after which President Abdoulaye Wade reaffirmed its “support for Iran” on the nuclear issue, noting Tehran had always said its uranium enrichment programme was peaceful.