Nkoana-Mashabane in Iran

Pretoria - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has arrived in Tehran to attend the inauguration of Dr Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s new President.

The inauguration is scheduled to take place today.

Rouhani was elected in presidential elections, which took place on 14 June 2013.

President-elect Rouhani has already been congratulated by President Jacob Zuma, who expressed the hope that bilateral relations between South Africa and Iran would be consolidated under his leadership.

Zuma also requested Rouhani to give priority to resolving all outstanding issues with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as far as Iran’s nuclear programme was concerned. Doing so would not only allow Iran to reclaim its rightful place in the international community, but it would also result in the lifting of international sanctions, which have caused immense hardships for the Iranian people.

Nkoana-Mashabane is expected to re-emphasise these messages in her engagements with the Iranian authorities, while at the same time demonstrating South Africa’s desire to give new impetus to bilateral relations.

In October 2013, South Africa will host the Eleventh Meeting of the South Africa–Iran Joint Commission. The Joint Commission with Iran is one of the longest running structured bilateral mechanisms that South Africa has with any country.

South Africa maintains a friendly relationship with Iran, even though the international sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic have made trade increasingly difficult.

One of the effects of these sanctions was that South Africa had to end its oil imports from Iran in June 2012.  The Joint Commission will allow the two governments the opportunity to take stock of relations and to consider means in which bilateral ties could be further expanded. – SAnews.gov.za