By the Blouin News Politics staff

South Africa, Iran keen to restore old ties

by in Africa, Middle East.

Jacob Zuma and Hassan Rouhani. (Source: GovernmentZA/flickr)

Jacob Zuma and Hassan Rouhani. (Source: GovernmentZA/flickr)

South African President Jacob Zuma wrapped up a state visit to Iran on Monday, with eight signed agreements and a pledge to vastly increase trade. Meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, the two leaders promised to restore their relations to the level before sanctions were imposed on Iran, and go far beyond that. From a paltry $25 million in bilateral trade last year, they want to reach $1 billion in non-oil trade by 2020, and up to $8 billion in total trade. Pre-sanctions Iran used to supply 40% of South Africa’s crude oil, and Tehran is keen to restore that relationship.

Meanwhile, Pretoria is eager to get newly-freed Iranian assets invested in South Africa. Thus, some cozying up to Tehran was in store. “South Africans were inspired by the 1979 revolution, which showed that emancipation is possible, whatever the odds,” Zuma said. He added, “Iran occupies a special place in our struggle against apartheid.” This was not total flattery; Nelson Mandela did indeed make two visits to Iran as president after 1994, when Tehran lifted sanctions and re-established relations with the former apartheid state…

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