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South Africa's trade with Iran to rise to $8B: President Zuma

Report by Press TV; photos by Islamic Republic News Agency

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma says he has agreed with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to increase the level of trade between the two countries to $8 billion by 2020.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L) with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said in Tehran on Sunday that his country plans to increase the volume of trade with Iran to as high as $8 billion by 2020.

Zuma told a meeting of Iranian and South African businessmen that the figure had been agreed on in his meeting with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani earlier in the day.

He added that trade volume between the two countries in 2015 stood at about $350 million, emphasizing that this needs to be increased drastically by relying on the potentials of both sides.

Zuma said his country views Iran as a strategic regional partner in the Middle East and Central Asia.

He said Iran has always been a key supplier of crude oil to South Africa, stressing that his country had suffered as a result of the sanctions - which prevented Iran from selling oil beyond a low ceiling of about 1 million barrels per day.

Zuma arrived in Tehran on Sunday heading a 180-member politico-economic delegation. He is visiting the Islamic Republic at the invitation of President Rouhani to discuss ways to strengthen relations between the two countries.

A series of key agreements were signed during Zuma's visit to Tehran in a variety of areas including the agriculture industry, water management, as well as joint investments and the insurance industry.

An important agreement - that was signed between Iran's Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI) and South Africa's national oil company PetroSA - envisaged cooperation over the production of gas to liquids (GTL).

The agreement already is seen to help Iran move closer to an ambitious plan to produce clean energy that was once pursued by South Africa's Sasol but later abandoned as a result of US pressures against investments in Iran as well as technical hurdles.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia - plus Germany started to implement a nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on January 16.

After the JCPOA went into effect, all nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran by the European Union, the UN Security Council and the United States were lifted. Iran has, in return, put some limitations on its nuclear activities.

The South African leader will travel to the central Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday.

He is set to be accompanied by various cabinet ministers and a high-level business delegation.

Ahead of Zuma's visit, Amir-Abdollahian and South Africa's International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo held a meeting in Tehran on Saturday and discussed the latest developments in West Asia and Africa.

The two sides commended growing relations between Tehran and Pretoria and expressed hope that the South African president's important trip would result in positive outcomes to serve the two nations' interests.

They also stressed the importance of pursuing political approaches to settle regional problems.

... Payvand News - 04/24/16 ... --

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