Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma, will lead a South African delegation to a State visit to Iran, which will strengthen bilateral and economic relations.
The visit is scheduled for Sunday and Monday and will be attended by a high-level business delegation and several Cabinet Ministers.
The State visit is going to be the first undertaken by an African leader after the lifting of trade and investment sanctions against Tehran in January.
The Presidency on Thursday said the visit will serve to cement the strong fraternal relations between the two countries that originated during the apartheid era when Iran refused to oil the apartheid machinery and cut ties with apartheid South Africa.
“The State visit of the President to Iran is an important structural catalyst in elevating bilateral and economic relations into a substantive strategic partnership and serves as evidence of the friendly relations between South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran based on mutual respect,” said the high office.
In 1994, with the advent of freedom and democracy in South Africa, Iran lifted all sanctions and the two countries re-established diplomatic ties. Since then, the two countries have enjoyed mutually beneficial, fraternal and strategic relations.
At the end of 2011, South Africa imported one third of its domestic oil requirements from Iran. However, by June 2012, South Africa could no longer import crude oil from Iran due to nuclear-related sanctions against that country.
Overall, South African exports to Iran declined from R1, 27 billion in 2008 to R270 million in 2014. But with the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, Pretoria believes that this provides immense potential for closer commercial and investment cooperation between the two countries.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Iran in November to explore opportunities for co-operation in the energy sector. – SAnews.gov.za