Welcome Remarks by Deputy Minister EI Ebrahim during the Intergovernmental Consultations between South Africa and the Republic of Kazakhstan, Pretoria, 28 September 2010

Your Excellency Deputy Minister Sarybay,
Kazakh Ambassador to the UAE accredited to South Africa, Ambassador Mussinov,
DDG for Asia and the Middle East, Ambassador Ngombane,
Senior Officials from both Governments,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the government and people of South Africa I am delighted to welcome you, Deputy Minister, and the delegation from Kazakhstan to the 1st Full Session of the South Africa-Kazakhstan: Inter-Governmental Consultations. If I am not mistaken, Deputy Minister, this is your first visit to South Africa and also that of most members of your delegation. I do hope that you have enjoyed our South African hospitality thus far and that this visit will be both professionally and personally memorable for both you and your delegation.

This 1st Session of the South-Africa-Kazakhstan: Inter-Governmental Consultations marks an important milestone in the development of relations between our two countries and provides us with a concrete opportunity to advance an agenda for mutual co-operation.

Besides the areas for bilateral co-operation that we will be discussing today, we have an opportunity to improve our mutual understanding and knowledge regarding our respective regions and countries. I hope that this will assist in addressing the challenge of building a dynamic partnership based on shared interests and values between our remote regions.

South Africa and Kazakhstan have in common that both countries have experienced a period of profound transition during the 1990s. Kazakhstan transitioned to a market based economy after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and South Africa has been in a process of transition and transformation to a non-racial democracy. Let us infuse our relations with the dynamism that these changes have fostered in both societies to build a strong working partnership.

I would like to thank all those involved in the preparations for our Inter-Governmental Consultations. The Consultations provide an important framework for conducting and strengthening our relations and I do hope that we make the most of this opportunity.

In my view, our priorities today should be to advance the mechanisms and agreements that will support the further development of the bilateral relationship and to explore the possibilities for mutual trade and investment opportunities that are still far below potential. Today, we have the opportunity to foster contacts and explore the potential for practical co-operation in order to add further substance to our growing relations. Similarly, invited guests from our respective business communities will have the opportunity to explore mutual opportunities during the joint Business Delegation meeting later this afternoon.  I hope these endeavours will contribute in a concrete manner to the expansion of trade and economic links between our countries and that we will be able to celebrate an increase in our bilateral trade figures when we meet for the next Inter-Governmental Consultations in Kazakhstan.

Once again, ladies and gentleman, welcome.

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