South African and Iranian delegations have been meeting in Pretoria this week to review the implementation of the decisions taken during the 10th meeting of the South Africa-Iran Joint Bilateral Commission (JBC) held in Tehran, Iran in July 2008.
The meetings were co-chaired by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, the Deputy Director-General responsible for Asia and Middle East in the Department of Foreign Affairs, and Dr Behrouz Alishihri, the Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance of Iran, who were appointed to oversee all activities related to the JBC in their respective countries and to ensure that the decisions taken by the JBC were implemented promptly.
The meetings reviewed the implementation of decisions taken by the Political and Social Affairs Working Group and the Economic and Technical Working Group, as well as discussed the way forward, including the possible establishment of technical committees.
The Political and Social Affairs Working Group deliberates upon issues affecting the Middle East, Africa, disarmament and nuclear issues, human rights, global governance, regional co-operation, South Africa’s Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (AsgiSA), education, health, environment and tourism, arts and culture, home affairs, sport and recreation, science and technology and women’s affairs.
South Africa’s participation in the meeting falls within its priority to strengthen bilateral political, economic and trade relations with Iran, within the broad framework of South-South cooperation.
South Africa and Iran have shared historical bilateral relations while the latter supported the South African liberation movements when it severed official relations with South Africa in 1979 and imposed a trade boycott in protest against the country’s Apartheid policies.
However in January 1994, following the fall of apartheid, Iran lifted all trade and economic sanctions against South Africa and diplomatic relations were re-established on 10 May 1994.