Opening Remarks by Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim on the occasion of the South Africa - Iran Fourth Deputy Ministerial Working Group, Tehran, 28 September 2009

Your Excellency, Deputy Minister Alishihri,
Ladies and gentlemen;

I am deeply honoured to be here in Tehran today for the fourth Meeting of our Deputy Ministerial Working Group. It is not my first visit to the Islamic Republic and I am impressed with the developments that have taken place since I was last here.

Iran is today a regional leader whose influence extends well beyond its borders. Similarly South Africa is also an important power on the African continent and it is fitting for there to be closer co-operation and interaction between our two countries. It is my sincere hope that our meeting today will further contribute to the realization of this objective.

Your Excellency,

South Africa values its relationship with Iran and we are pleased that our political and economic relations are strong and expanding. Iran remains one of the biggest markets for South African products in the Middle East and our investments in the Islamic Republic is among the highest in the region. Iran is also the source of about one quarter of our crude oil imports. It is therefore in our mutual interest to work together in tackling any impediments to trade and investment that there may be in order to deepen our economic relationship.

The Joint Commission and its sub-structures, such as this Deputy Ministerial Working Group, are well-established and effective mechanisms that facilitate structured engagement between the two countries. We are pleased with the progress made with the implementation of decisions taken during the Eleventh Joint Commission at a mutually convenient date. We are equally ready to review this progress with you and to plan for a successful meeting o the Joint Commission in the near future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our meeting occurs during trying times in the international arena, with a myriad of challenges in areas of global finance, global peace and security, and the proper management of global affairs. We therefore have occasion to reflect on some of these challenges, and consider what we can do together, to make our own contribution towards a better world.

Your excellency may I conclude by thanking you for the hospitality extended to me and my delegation and we look forward to a fruitful engagement with you, which will contribute to the strengthening of our bilateral relations.

I thank you

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