Transcript Copy: Joint Press Conference by Deputy Ministers Aziz Pahad and Mohammad Reza Baqeri, Thursday 17 July 2008, Lombardy Hotel, Pretoria
Deputy Minister Pahad:
Colleagues in the media, let me say how important it was to have Deputy Minister Baqeri and his delegation coming to South Africa. This is part of our political consultations which is also in preparation for the 10th Joint Commission that will be hosted by the Iranian Foreign Minister and our Minister will be leading our delegation that will take place in Iran from 1 to 2 August.
Our task was to look at the broader political situation but also assess preparations for the tenth session of the Joint Commission.
This has been for us an excellent opportunity to review our bilateral relations. As you know, Iran is still our largest supplier of oil and our trade figures are quite impressive and we are looking at ways in which we can increase the trade. As you know, some of our major industries are already in Iran, MTN, Sasol and many others are looking at that possibility.
From my side and from our delegation’s side this was an excellent opportunity to get an understanding of developments in the region that you all know are the greatest threat to international peace and stability.
We had a very good briefing on the situation – the Palestinian situation, the Lebanese situation, Iraq, Afghanistan and indeed we will still continue to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme.
It is our view that the continued threats to attack Iran are not in the interest of world peace and stability and the international community must mobilise to prevent any such actions by whatever power that be.
We had an excellent opportunity to brief our guests about developments in Africa including on Zimbabwe, and indeed on all other areas. It was clear that my colleague, the Deputy Minister was in Sharm El Sheikh and is familiar with the other areas of conflict Djibouti, Chad, Eritrea, Sudan and is in many ways familiar with developments there. They have been asked also to support the peace processes in those areas.
The Minister will meet our South African Minister of Minerals and Energy, the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa.
We also had and will continue to have discussions on the coming NAM Ministerial meeting which will be held in Iran in the next few days. This is a very important Non-Aligned Movement meeting because it will assess the new challenges we face in the fuel crisis which impacts on the food crisis and its total impact on our developmental agenda.
As it is going to be hosted in Iran, Iran being a key player in the whole energy industry, it will be an opportunity to concretely look at the challenges of the fuel crisis.
Iran is also chair of the Indian Ocean Rim grouping and therefore it will again be an opportunity to discuss how we use that to develop South-South relations.
Iran is an active member of the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership and therefore we will see how we can together use these institutions for South-South partnerships.
So I welcome you Minister. Thanks for all the discussions. I’m sure we’ve agreed to continue having dynamic contact to continue to discuss all the issues I’ve just referred to. Thank you.
Deputy Minister Baqeri:
I would like to thank my brother Deputy Minister Pahad for all the kind remarks that he has made here.
We were here to follow the political contact that exists between our two governments and to mention that there is excellent progress on the bilateral relations. The relations of the two countries are already on the excellent level and we have decided to better promote them.
In addition to the bilateral relations of the two countries will follow in the near future the meeting of the Joint Commission in Tehran. We have discussed a number of regional and international issues.
Iran is a key player in its region and South Africa is a key player in the African continent. Therefore on the basis of the bilateral cooperation as well as South-South cooperation, the two countries must meet regularly.
As one of the critical issues of the world of today Palestine has been discussed between the two sides among other critical issues of the region including Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East. Iraq and Afghanistan were two other issues that were discussed.
There were other countries that the two sides discussed. The most important issues of Africa were also discussed, among them the issue of Zimbabwe which is part of the focus of the whole continent. The two sides agreed that the issues of the region should be handled by the people of the region and the interference of the outside should be reduced to a minimum.
The Alliance forces are not only notorious in the African continent they are notorious in other regions everywhere. The people of the Middle East have got very unhappy memories of them and they are so decisive to solve their own problem on their own. Therefore the two sides agree that within the framework of South-South cooperation Iran and South Africa can make a partnership to reduce that interference in domestic matters.
We also deliberated on the nuclear issue of Iran and its controversy. We were of the understanding that the other forces would not wish us to be strong and powerful but we have decided to stand on our own.
We want to have this authority and to share this power with other countries to get benefit from the nuclear facility. We are of no doubt that today they are making obstacles for Iran and tomorrow it may be any other country.
We believe that the relation between Iran and South Africa can be exemplary for other countries. Ofcourse we are not fully happy about the existing level of cooperation and we believe that there are much potential to explore.
I would like to thank my brother Mr Pahad.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: Ministers, just on the nuclear missiles testing, your reaction from the outcry from the West in particular.
Answer: There is a lot of propaganda against Iran and most of it has no reality on the ground. We believe that the region and the countries of the region should be peaceful. And we have proof that we have helped the restoration of peace and stability in the region. Therefore established authority in Iran is no threat to any country in the whole world.
We witness repeated manoeuvres in different parts of the Middle East and we also see interference in the region. To keep our authority and powerfulness, it is the legitimate right of Iran to resort to any technology and facility.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
17 July 2008