The Sunday Mail
Mabasa Sasa in Baku, Azerbaijan
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev are locked up in talks at the Presidential Palace in Baku, exploring ways to depeeneconomic and political ties between their two countries.
The talks started about ten minutes ago, after which the leaders will have a working lunch before President Mnangagwa departs for Kazakhstan where he will engage President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana.
Insiders say Azerbaijan is eyeing a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement as the cornerstone of economic relations with Zimbabwe.
Rich in oil and gas, Baku has hinted at co-operation in mining, energy and tourism. Harare, on its part, is looking at interesting Baku in investing in polished granite goods and finished tobacco products, while also pursuing fuel supply arrangements.
During the week while in Russia, President Mnangagwa told Tass news agency that when President Aliyev invited him to Azerbaijan, the latter indicated he wanted to directly discuss agriculture and oil with him.
“I have never been there (to Azerbaijan) before but these are the areas that he indicated in his invitation, that he would want to develop relationships in those areas.
“They are currently drafting memorandums of understanding in those areas, and we will finalise when we arrive there,” President Mnangagwa said.
President Mnangagwa arrived in Baku last night and was received at Heydar Aliyev International Airport by Azerbaijan’s First Deputy Prime Minister Yaqub Eyyubov.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was coming from a State Visit to Belarus, which followed another one in Russia where he met President Vladimir Putin.
Zimbabwe and Azerbaijan established diplomatic relations about 11 years ago, but in that period there have not been any bilateral political or economic exchanges.
But since President Mnangagwa’s ascension in November 2017, that has started to change.
Late last year, Azerbaijan started providing scholarships to Zimbabweans atundergraduate/graduate/doctoral level and for medicine/residency.
From Azerbaijan, President Mnangagwa rounds off his four-nation Eurasian tour in Kazakhstan, where he is expected to enhance economic co-operation between the two countries during talks with President Nazarbayev.
In Russia and Belarus, President Mnangagwa and his two counterparts sealed investments, partnerships and agreements covering an array of areas, including mining, agriculture, transport and logistics, infrastructure, education and training, and extradition.
President Mnangagwa invited both Presidents Putin and Alexander Lukashenko (Belarus) to visit Zimbabwe, along with businesspeople from those countries.