SA-Cuba to strengthen ties

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pretoria - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane and her delegation will arrive in Cuba later today to strengthen South Africa's already existing bilateral ties with the Latin American country.

Nkoana Mashabane will be in Havana to co-chair the 6th session of the South Africa - Cuba Joint Bilateral Commission, with Cuban Minister of Foreign Investment and Trade, Marcelino Medina.

South Africa will co-chair the two-day session scheduled for Tuesday, within the context of South Africa's priority to consolidate and strengthen the bilateral political and economic relations between the two countries.

Department spokesperson, Saul Kgomotso Molobi, said the session will review the existing bilateral agreements and explore possible new areas of cooperation.

"During the Sixth Session it is expected that, in addition to the existing list of agreements, an agreement on environment will be signed," Molobi said in a statement.

While in Cuba, Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane will also use the opportunity to prepare for President Zuma's State visit to Cuba during the first half of 2010, which is expected to take relations to an even higher level.

The South Africa-Cuba JBC was established in February 2001 as a co-ordinating forum for the periodic review of bilateral co-operation projects in identified areas of economic, scientific, technical and commercial co-operation and the extension of co-operation to new areas.

Cuba is one of South Africa's most important strategic partners in Latin America and the Caribbean and maintains excellent bilateral exchanges in a variety of fields of political and socio-economic activity.

"Both countries have similar approaches to various issues collectively embodied in the South agenda, which includes increased cooperation amongst countries of the South and a redefinition of relations between the North and South," explained Molobi.

At an international level, Cuba and South Africa enjoy each others' support on important multilateral issues.

The two also co-operate within other South-South international organisations such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China.