Statement by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Nomaindiya Mfeketo, on the occasion of the joint media briefing with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic State of Iran, Dr Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Pretoria, 09 September 2014

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media;

Let me begin by once again welcoming Dr Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, and his delegation to South Africa for the Fifth Deputy Ministerial Working Group between our two countries.

The Deputy Ministerial Working Group follows upon the Joint Commission, which remains one of South Africa’s longest-serving and most successful structured bilateral mechanisms.

As we celebrate 20 years of democracy this year, we remember the support that Iran had provided to the people of South Africa in their struggle against Apartheid. For these reasons, the South African Government places great importance to its relationship with Iran.

South Africa recognises that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a pivotal and influential player in its region as well as internationally. Iran has a rich history and a vibrant culture. It has a large and growing economy.

In his State of the National Address in February 2014, His Excellency President Zuma outlined the South African Government’s commitment to five national priorities, namely education, health, the fight against crime, creating decent work, as well as rural development and land reform.

The South African Government has developed a New Growth Path, which includes five drivers that should stimulate and grow our economy in order to achieve our national priorities. These drivers include infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing and the green as well as blue economy. Iran has excelled in the pursuit of some of these fields, particularly education and health.

We had fruitful discussions with the Deputy Minister and his delegation on various issues of bilateral and multilateral concern, including on peace and security issues, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

We reviewed the status of our relations and renewed our commitment to work resolutely for the identification of increased opportunities to enhance our cooperation across various fields for the mutual benefit of our peoples.  The two sides agree that there is potential for the expansion of our relations.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that South Africa recognises the important political and economic role that Iran assumes regionally and internationally, and we consider the Islamic Republic of Iran to be an important friend and partner. We look forward to our further engagement and the convening of the 12th session of the Joint Commission for the consolidation of our bilateral relations.

I would now like to take this opportunity to invite Dr Amir Abdollahian to address the media.

Thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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