Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that Iran and Sudan stand together as “defenders of Islam” in the face of pressure from Western governments.
“Iran and Sudan will stand together as defenders of the Islamic world and the independence of the region,” he said after meeting Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir during a brief visit to Khartoum.
“Both countries are facing pressure from the colonialists, who want to impose things that affect our people negatively. They are trying to apply pressure on independent states, because they don’t want them to be strong,” he added.
Sudan’s delegation included the deputy foreign minister, and the ministers of oil, labor, information and presidential affairs.
Speaking alongside Ahmadinejad after the meeting, Bashir underlined Sudan’s support for Iran’s nuclear program.
“We will work together to build a relationship based on cooperation and respect and mutual benefits, and we are looking forward to closer cooperation with Iran,” he said.
“We confirm that we support the right of Iran to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.”
Iran is under mounting international pressure over its controversial nuclear program, which the West fears masks a drive to acquire atomic weapons capability -- a charge Tehran persistently denies.
Although there was no indication that any agreements were signed on Monday, the visit does appear to have strengthened economic and political ties between the two Islamic governments.
In a joint statement released shortly before Ahmadinejad’s departure, Iran said it was “ready to transfer its experience in the science and manufacturing sectors, especially technical and engineering services, to improve Sudan’s infrastructure.”
Khartoum is urgently seeking foreign support in the face of mounting economic woes, which include soaring inflation, crippling foreign debts and the loss of much of its oil revenues, after South Sudan’s formal secession in July.
Iran is a key ally, pledging $200 million to fund various projects in Sudan’s impoverished eastern region at a donor conference late last year.
The two countries are heavily sanctioned by the United States, which kept them both on its list of alleged state sponsors of terrorism, in an annual report published by the State Department last month.