Cape Town, April 21 (IANS) South African President Jacob Zuma will lead a high-level delegation on a state visit to Iran to cement bilateral ties, the Presidency said on Thursday.
The visit, scheduled for April 24-25, 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 the two countries, Xinhua news agency reported quoting the Presidency.
Zuma will be accompanied by various cabinet ministers and a high-level business delegation.
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, presidential spokesperson Bongani Majola said.
Following the end of apartheid in 1994, 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.
But the imposition of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran impacted negatively on trade relations between the two countries.
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.
Overall, South African exports to Iran declined from 1.27 billion rand (about $89.4 million) in 2008 to 270 million rand (about $19 million) in 2014.