Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian began an official visit to Mauritania Tuesday accompanied by a high-ranking political delegation.
Amir-Abdollahian is expected to meet with Mauritanian President Mohammed Ould Ghazouani and Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Marzouk, announced a government-affiliated news agency in Iran.
The source explained that the visit falls within Iran's interest in the African market, a "wide and suitable platform for selling Iranian goods."
The visit comes two weeks after Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi sent a written message to his Mauritanian counterpart inviting him to visit Tehran.
Raisi sent a similar letter to Ghazouani in February last year, delivered by the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mohammad Mehdi-Esmaili, in his capacity as Raisi's special envoy to Mauritania.
Mehdi-Esmaili said in a press statement after handing over the letter to the Mauritanian President that Iran seeks to develop its relations with Mauritania in all fields without revealing more details.
Despite highlighting the economic and commercial aspects of the visit, security and military files are believed to be behind Iran's rapprochement toward the Sahel region.
Amir-Abdollahian's visit to Mauritania coincides with similar trips by Iranian diplomats to the capitals of the Group of Five for the Sahel countries (G5 Sahel).
The Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) was founded in 2014 as a regional, intergovernmental organization. It provides an institutional framework to promote development and security within its five member countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, and Mali, which suspended its membership in the group last year.
Tehran is seeking to find a foothold in the Sahel region, which is witnessing a raging international conflict, in light of the decline of French influence. Many Sahel countries tend to cooperate with Russia within the framework of new policies to diversify international partnerships to combat terrorism.
Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri-Kani visited Niger and Burkina Faso two weeks ago and held meetings with the two countries' leaders, during which he carried messages from Tehran.
Bagheri-Kani also invited Prime Minister Apollinaire Joachim Kyelem de Tambela to visit Tehran, stressing that Iran aims to boost its relations with Burkina Faso in various fields, namely economic, political, and health.
He added that Tehran would appoint an ambassador to Burkina Faso and provide scholarships for Burkinabe students in Iranian universities.
The diplomat strongly criticized Western policies to combat terrorism in the Sahel region, accusing the West of standing behind ISIS terrorist organization, reiterating that France provides support to terrorists.
Bagheri-Kani stressed that Iran was willing to share its experience in combating terrorism with Burkina Faso.
The Prime Minister announced that his country was seeking Iran's help with military equipment to fight terrorism, adding that Burkina Faso also has products to offer to Iran, such as cotton, gold, cattle, and tomatoes.
Bagheri-Kani also visited Bamako, the capital of Mali, at the end of last December and met with Mali Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop.
During the meeting, the two officials described the developments in the bilateral relations as a "new dynamic path," noting that they are establishing a "partnership," focusing on enhancing the capabilities of defense and security forces in terms of military equipment and training.
Bagheri-Kani referred to bilateral relations as the "Bamako-Tehran axis."
Last August, Iran's foreign minister announced from Bamako his country's desire to develop economic and trade relations with Mali.
He also expressed his country's rejection of the sanctions imposed on Mali by African countries following the military coup and said that Iran intends to organize a technology exhibition in Bamako.