Iran, South Africa Take Steps to Increase Bilateral Cooperation

February 5, 2002 - 0:0
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, arrived in Tehran on February 3 heading a delegation to take part in the Sixth South African-Iranian Bilateral Joint Economic Commission from Feb. 4-5.

The South African ministers of health and culture are also part of the delegation.

The main topics discussed between Iranian and South African officials include economic relations, especially in the areas of petrochemicals, agriculture, and transportation, the anti-drug campaign, and political issues such as the situation in the Middle East.

After the victory of the Islamic Revolution Iran adopted an anti-apartheid policy and suspended diplomatic relations with South Africa. Diplomatic relations were restored in 1994 after the racist regime was toppled and South Africa became a multiracial democracy.

The Iranian and South African nations both fought against despotism and colonialism to achieve freedom and independence. This common bond of struggle has paved the way for the expansion of ties between the two countries. Iran and South Africa established the first Joint Commission in April 1996.

South Africa is one of the most industrialized and technologically advanced states in Africa and plays a leading role in trade and economic affairs in southern Africa. It enjoys good relations with other African countries and has the potential to become an economic power. Its membership in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) enhances this potential.

Iran possesses huge oil and gas reserves and, as a gateway to Europe, Asia, and Africa and a founding member of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), is an important player in regional and international economic relations. It is currently the sixth largest trading partner of South Africa.

Experts believe that Iran-South Africa cooperation could be expanded in various sectors such as mines, industry, trade, medicine and agriculture. The possibility exists for increasing trade exchanges to $1 billion.

Therefore, it is expected that the Joint Commission will formulate an effective strategy to accelerate cooperation between the two countries.