The nation’s top diplomat says Harare is upgrading its infrastructure to accommodate guests for the next high-level conference Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava. © Mustafa Ciftci/Getty Images

Zimbabwe is interested in hosting the Russia-Africa summit, TASS reported on Monday, citing the nation’s minister of foreign affairs and international trade, Frederick Shava.

Harare’s ambition to host this “very significant and large forum” stems from Russia’s reputation as a reliable friend to the southern African country, according to the minister. “We are interested in developing our infrastructure in such a way that we will eventually be able to accommodate the heads of state of Russia and 54 African countries,” TASS quoted the diplomat as saying. Shava added that he hoped Zimbabwe would be ready to host such a forum in a year and a half.

In February, Russian Foreign Ministry official Vsevolod Tkachenko hinted that the third Russia-Africa summit would be held in Africa but did not specify which country. Tkachenko, who heads the ministry’s Africa Department, told TASS that Moscow has established a dialogue platform to hold regular joint meetings with foreign ministers from the continent to plan the conference, which is scheduled for 2026.

The second Russia-Africa summit, which was held in St. Petersburg last July, was attended by representatives of 49 countries from the continent. During the two-day event, Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to strengthen relations with African nations and launched a humanitarian aid initiative that resulted in six countries, including Zimbabwe, receiving free grain supplies from Moscow.

Russia’s presence in Africa has ruffled feathers in the West. France and some Western allies, including the US, accuse Moscow of pursuing a predatory agenda, particularly in West and Central Africa, where Paris and Washington have suffered setbacks in recent years. However, numerous countries on the continent have hailed Moscow as a strategic ally.

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Zimbabwe, which has been under Western sanctions since 2003, also considers its relations with Russia “excellent” and seeks to deepen ties in areas such as security, humanitarian aid, education, and trade.

Last week, Zimbabwean Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri announced Harare’s intention to join the BRICS group. The move would provide a more favorable environment for free trade with other member states, the official reportedly said in a speech at the BRICS international inter-party forum in the Russian city of Vladivostok.

On Monday, Shava called Russia a “world leader” and a “global power that has a profound influence on international relations.”

“Political support from Russia played a key role in our liberation struggle, and now it is only growing. Our leaders are bound by strong bonds of friendship,” he told TASS. (RT)