Mnangagwa hosts Russia's Lavrov

Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Russia’s Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday met Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa and discussed military cooperation between the two countries.

The two also discussed Russia’s $3 billion platinum project near Harare as well as opportunities in diamond mining at a time Zimbabwe is seeking to revive its economy after years of decline.

“We talked about the tasks that we have to pursue in order to develop these trade and economic ties between our countries,” Mr Lavrov told journalists after meeting President Mnangagwa at his offices in Harare.

Platinum deposits

The Russian Foreign minister, who is on a tour of Africa, said their discussions centred on boosting economic ties between the two countries,

“We emphasised the implementation of the joint project of exploring the Darwendale platinum deposits,” he added.

The deal between Zimbabwe and Russia to exploit the platinum deposits, one of the largest in the world, was signed during former President Robert Mugabe’s administration.

Mr Mugabe was toppled by the military in November last year and Mr Lavrov is the first high profile Russian government official to visit Zimbabwe since President Mnangagwa took over.

“We also had a good conversation about the good prospects of cooperation in the diamond industry,” the Russian minister said.

He said their meeting that took less than an hour explored opportunities for military cooperation between Russia and Zimbabwe.

“We have also talked about prospects for military and technical cooperation. We have a special group working on this particular subject,” Mr Lavrov said.

Economic ties

Zimbabwe’s military has been struggling to buy spares for its equipment or replenish its stocks due to sanctions imposed by Western countries over allegations of human rights violations.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo said the meeting between Mr Lavrov and President Mnangagwa would unlock opportunities for the southern African country.

“The visit by Mr Lavrov has escalated the level of bilateral relations between our two great nations to combine both political and economic ties,” he said. “We hope to increase the tourism inflow of Russians in the country.”

Mr Lavrov is expected to visit Ethiopia on Friday after his African trip took him to Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

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