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Südafrika

08. März 2019

OPENING REMARKS BY DEPUTY MINISTER R MHAULE, NINTH DEPUTY MINISTERIAL WORKING GROUP MEETING (DMWG) BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, CAPE TOWN

Your Excellency Dr Abbas Araghchi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Your Excellency, Mr Mohsen Mohavhedi Ghomi, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Republic of South Africa, Professor Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director-General of Asia and Middle East of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation,

Members of the South African and Iranian delegations

It is my pleasure to welcome you to Cape Town today for the 8th Session of the Deputy Ministerial Working Group Meeting.

Much has happened in both our countries since the 7th Session that was last held in 2017 - a meeting where my predecessor, and now Minister, Nomaindya Mfeketo, led the South African delegation.

I am most honoured to meet you today and wish to convey our appreciation for your visit to the Republic of South Africa. I know this visit is being undertaken during a challenging time for your country and we are grateful that the Islamic Republic of Iran values its relationship with South Africa such, that you deemed it appropriate to visit during this time.

Difficult times, however, bring friends together and I am delighted to have witnessed the increased interactions between the Governments of Iran and South Africa during the last year. Minister Sisulu fondly recalls the meeting she held with Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in June 2018.  Professor Sooklal has also told me that he engaged with you when he led the South African delegation to Tehran in August 2018, where he was given strong instructions to convey the South African Government's political support to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As I have mentioned, your visit to South Africa takes place in trying circumstances for your country and I would like to  emphasise that we, as South Africa, regard the decision of the United States Government to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as regrettable.

South Africa has always believed in diplomacy and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, as a matter of principle, and we consider the JCPOA as a significant achievement in this regard. We believe that it provides the necessary framework and confidence-building measures, under which your country is able to pursue its nuclear activities for peaceful purposes; a fundamental principle of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In addition, the JCPOA was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2231, which provides a binding legal framework to the agreement.

We are heartened by Iran's decision and those of the remaining parties to the JCPOA, to continue to uphold the commitments of this agreement. We believe that your country has adhered to its prescripts as reinforced by the various IAEA Reports that had been presented to the Board of Governors and General Conference.

Your Excellency, despite all the constraints we remain committed to continue to support the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is my firm belief that today's meeting will add further momentum to our bilateral relations, such that South Africa and Iran will weather the storm together. Dr Abbas, I welcome the opportunity to engage with you today on the issues before us on the wide-ranging agenda. This will better serve our bilateral relations as South Africa looks to continue its commitment to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Once again, a warm word of welcome to you and your delegation.

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