SA, Russia to cement ties

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pretoria -South Africa and Russia will this week work to further strengthen their bilateral political and economic relations when delegations from the two countries meet.

The two countries will on Monday and Tuesday co-chair the 8th Session of the South Africa - Russian Federation Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) in Cape Town.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane and the Russian Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Petrovich Trutnev are scheduled to co-chair the meeting.

The 8th Session of ITEC takes place within the context of strengthening North -South Dialogue and against the backdrop of solid relations between the two countries with a particularly deep and extensive cooperation in the field of scientific research.

"South Africa regards the Russian Federation as a strategic partner; close bilateral and multilateral ties exist between the two countries," the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement.

While there is currently no structured mechanism for political dialogue between South Africa and Russia, it said the ITEC serves as the mechanism for broadening and deepening economic and trade ties.

"ITEC tends to be the engine room for the generation of new bilateral agreements and for reviewing and bolstering implementation of those agreements."

The session will also serve as a preparatory meeting for the envisaged state visit by President Zuma to the Russian Federation in 2010.

Since the signing of ITEC in 1993, ITEC has proven to be an effective instrument that has directly contributed to improved two-way trade and investment, as well as critical skills and technology transfers.

In addition South Africa and Russia jointly launched the South African satellite, Sumbandilasat, at the Russian space facility in Kazakhstan in September.

It has also given practical substance to the political commitment on the part of the two countries to work together, as expressed in the Treaty of Friendship and Partnership signed during President Putin's visit to South Africa in September 2006.

It is envisaged that the 8th session of ITEC will not only address current issues in the evolving bilateral relationship, but that it will also afford an opportunity to identify and map key areas that would require attention in the year ahead.

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