President Ahmadinejad visits Gambia Banjul-Tehran ties strengthened
Monday, November 23, 2009
The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, His Excellency Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, yesterday, at 14:15 pm arrived in The Gambia for a day?s working visit.
Accompanied by a high powered delegation including the First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Her Excellency Madam Azam Farahi, ministers and other senior government officials, the Iranian president was received on arrival at the foot of the aircraft by his Gambian counterpart, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh. Among other prominent personalities at the Banjul International Airport to receive the Iranian president were the Gambian vice president and minister of Women?s Affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy; the speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Elizabeth Renner; the chief justice, Emmanuel Agim; ministers; National Assembly members; senior government officials; religious leaders; and members of the diplomatic community.
A guard of honour was mounted for the visiting Iranian leader by personnel of The Gambia Armed Forces. The arrival ceremony was also characterized by a display of cultural performances, as well as musical performances by the Gambia?s Kora maestro, Jaliba Kuyateh and the Sedhiou Band; a move meant to showcase Gambia?s rich culture to the Iranian president and delegation. Shortly after the usual airport ceremony, the two presidents were in a convoy of vehicles to the Sheraton International Hotel and Spa in Brufut, where President Ahmadinejad was stalled.
Later in the evening, the two leaders had a téte- a -téte at State House in Banjul; a meeting that availed them the opportunity to discuss and review the political and economic situation in both countries, as well as other regional development issues. Such a meeting has served as a major boost to the already cordial bilateral ties existing between the two countries.
After the téte- a-téte, a Joint Communiqué was issued, and read on behalf of the two leaders by the Foreign Affairs ministers of the two countries.
In a five-page Communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the two leaders expressed the need to fully consolidate the bond of friendship and cooperation between the two countries, and reiterated their resolve to work closely for the benefits of the two states. ?In reviewing the political and economic situation in the world, the two heads of state discussed the issue of stability and peace which is a key precondition for development. They also stressed their strong conviction that there can be no internal stability, peace and justice without regional peace and therefore undertake to cooperate in the fight against all forms of threat to peace, security, and progress in the interest of mankind,? stated the communiqué.
The significance of holding Iran- Africa summit within the framework of cooperation with the African Union was also stressed in the communiqué, given Iran?s positive approach to African countries. ?Both sides considered justice and human dignity as well as the need to address the root causes of Palestinian crisis as the most important solution to the problem and stressed the efforts to resolve it, based on the complete restitution of the rights of the Palestinian nation and other nations of the region,? the communiqué added while indicating that the Gambian side has expressed its gratitude for the positive role Iran played in the implementation of peace and security in Iraq and Afghanistan. They reiterated the importance of justice, tolerance and respect for the rule for global peace and security.
In the communiqué, the two heads of state also underscored the need for self reliance, thus undertook to promote brotherhood and the sharing of best practices at the bilateral level, as well as through multilateral arrangements under aegis of South-South Cooperation. The Iranian president extended an invitation to President Jammeh to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran, a gesture accepted by The Gambian leader.
The two leaders later held a press conference at State House.
Speaking at the occasion, the Gambian leader, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, said that The Gambia and Iran have a longstanding relationship dating back to the 19970s, but noted that the strategic bilateral relationship started in 1995. At the government level, he added that the Banjul-Tehran relationship is a comprehensive one ranging from cultural, scientific, education and agricultural areas, amongst others. With regards to the relationship facing the current global situation that is characterized by crises, President Jammeh underscored the fact that one needs to prioritise its relationship with the other, taking into consideration the financial crisis that the world is enduring with as well as other crisis that humanity is facing.
?But there is no limit to our relationship; it is a very open and brotherly relationship and one that is here to stay,? assured The Gambian leader. For his part, the Iranian president, His Excellency Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, expressed gratitude to The Gambian leader for the invitation, and went further to express gratitude for the warm and hospitable reception accorded to him and his delegation. Like his Gambian counterpart, the Iranian president, who was on his second visit to The Gambia within three years - the first during the 2006 African Union Banjul Summit - underscored the bond of good brotherly and friendly relations existing between the two countries.
He spoke of his determination to expand the ties in all areas including agriculture and industry. President Ahmadinejad reminded the journalists that the two countries also have cooperation at the multilateral level, and further expressed their determination to continue the cooperation.
He stressed the need for governments to join hands together and address the numerous challenges, describing The Gambia and Iran as two countries with identical views.
The press conference which was moderated by Momodou Saidy, State House press officer, was attended by ministers and other senior government officials of the two countries. Later in the evening, the Gambian leader hosted a state banquette in honour of the visiting Iranian President at the Kairaba Beach Hotel. President Ahmadinejad and delegation left Banjul in the early hours of today.
Author: Hatab Fadera