Press Release

12 September 2013

Deputy Minister Fransman concludes Working Visit to Cuba

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Marius Fransman concluded his two-day Working Visit to the Republic of Cuba on 10 September 2013.

The Deputy Minister’s visit to Cuba was utilised to consolidate political, bilateral and multilateral relations and explore avenues for closer cooperation.

While in Cuba, Deputy Minister Fransman co-chaired the 10th South Africa-Cuba Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) with 1st Deputy Minister Mr Marcelino Medina. The JCM, established in 2001 to coordinate cooperation between the two countries, focuses on all aspects of bilateral political relations.

During the JCM, both sides reaffirmed the solid bilateral relations and historical ties between the two countries. Deputy Minister Fransman expressed gratitude for Cuba's ongoing support for the South African Government’s main priorities through the implementation of joint programmes in health, labour, social development, housing and infrastructure.

Deputy Minister Fransman cited the deployment of Cuban doctors, engineers and technical experts in all the provinces of South Africa as a demonstration of Cuba's commitment. The Deputy Minister noted the training of over 1400 South African medical students on Cuban scholarships. The students went through an intensive Spanish language course and 99.7 per cent passed their language exams. A further number of students will arrive in September 2013 to start their academic training. The number of South African students will grow to well over 2000.

1st Deputy Minister Medina thanked the South African Government for consistently raising its voice in all major forums to demand the lifting of the economic embargo against Cuba and for the unconditional release of the remaining four of the Cuban Five.

With regard to multilateral issues, both sides reaffirmed commitment to advancing the agenda of the South in bodies such as the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. On regional matters, both sides discussed the feasibility of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to engage with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) bloc. Both Latin America and Africa are regarded as hubs of economic development and growth and therefore, cooperation with BRICS would be mutually beneficial.

Deputy Minister Fransman met with Ms Ileana Nunez Mordoche, Cuba's Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade. Both sides agreed to enhance South-South and Trilateral economic cooperation.

Deputy Minister Fransman delivered a public lecture at the Raul Roa Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana on: "Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity/African Union - strengthening of relations between Africa and her Diaspora." The Deputy Minister stressed the integral role played by Cuba in the international solidarity and Pan-Africanist movement.

Deputy Minister Marius Fransman is currently in Bogota, the Republic Colombia, for the final leg of his four- nation visit to Latin America and the Caribbean (Peru, Ecuador, Cuba and Colombia). The objective of the visit to Colombia is to enhance bilateral political, economic, social and cultural relations.

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, 082 884 5974.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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