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Iran’s Leader Concludes Visit To Uganda

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has concluded a two-day visit to Uganda. Mr. Ahmadinejad traveled to Uganda from Zimbabwe where he met with that country's president, Robert Mugabe, who offered support for Iran's nuclear program.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni Friday defended the right of every country to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, while calling for all nuclear weapons to be eradicated.

“President Museveni travelled to Iran last year and since the Iranian president was visiting Zimbabwe he [Ahmadinejad] thought it prudent that since he was in the region he would make a return visit to Uganda,” said Henry Oryem Okello, Uganda’s Minister of State for International Affairs.

Okello said the visit gave the Uganda government an opportunity to have frank and direct talks with the Iranian leader on their nuclear program, which is a subject in the Security Council. Uganda is currently a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

The minister distanced himself from the remarks attributed to President Ahmadinejad that the two countries “are ready to invade countries that undermine independence and sovereignty” of other nations.
Uganda does not have the capacity to invade other countries, he said, adding “Uganda’s responsibility is to protect its boundaries.”

Okello said the Iranians have agreed to invest in a tractor assembly plant in Uganda. They will also build a polyclinic for the Uganda police force worth $1.5 million.

The clinic, a one year project that will in its second phase be turned into a fully fledged hospital with 100 bed capacity for patients, is a humanitarian initiative for Uganda by Iran Red Crescent Society. The Iranians will also invest in an Iranian free zone area in one of the suburbs of Kampala.

“In bilateral talks, the president of Uganda had an opportunity to engage his counterpart, the president of Iran, on the issue of their nuclear program,” the minister said.

“I think now president Museveni is in a position to explain to his counterparts – permanent and non- permanent members of the UN Security Council – what president Ahmadinejad told him about the nuclear program in their discussions.”

Uganda has not indicated how it will vote if proposed sanctions against Iran are brought to the Security Council.