Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has affirmed that South Africa is a traditional friend and one of the leading partners of Vietnam in Africa.

FM Minh made the statement during talks with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana Mashabane on August 6 during his two-day visit to the country.

He congratulated the South African people for significant achievements they have reaped under the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC), placing the country on the top of the continent in various fields, including economics, culture, education and science-technology.

Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane described Minh’s visit as a new momentum for further fostering the two countries’ relations.

She confirmed that South Africa highly values Vietnam ’s role in the region and at international forums, expressing hope that Vietnam will serve as a bridge linking the South Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

She voiced wish that the two countries will continue coordination and mutual support at international forums, especially the United Nations, the South-South cooperation framework and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Regarding bilateral ties, the two ministers expressed their delight at the developing traditional friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and South Africa over the past years, especially since they set up their partnership for cooperation and development in 2004.

The two sides agreed to increase the exchange of all-level delegations and people-to-people exchange activities as well as continue maintaining regular meetings between the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the ANC, considering it a firm political foundation to develop bilateral ties in a comprehensive and intensive manner in the future.

They also reached consensus on priority areas and measures to promote cooperation in trade, investment, agriculture, science and technology, defence, tourism and environment, striving to raise two-way trade to more than 1 billion USD in the coming years.

Both sides shared determination to speed up negotiations for the signing of the agreement on double taxation avoidance and agreement on investment encouragement and protection, creating a favourable legal framework for businesses of both countries.

They also agreed on the expansion of a tripartite cooperation model that has been effectively implemented in Guinea Conakry and other African countries.

The African side spoke highly of Vietnam ’s efforts and expressed desire to continue strengthening cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation in combating the illegal transport and trading of wild animals and related products.

The same day, FM Minh paid a courtesy call to South African President Jacob Zuma, who affirmed that the leaders and people of his country admire the courage of Vietnamese people during the past struggle for independence, which was considered an inspiration and a good example for the South African people to win victory over the Apartheid.

President Zuma stressed that South Africa sees Vietnam as its reliable friend and ally, expressing wish that the two countries will continue tightening their all-round ties, especially in economics and trade.

During his stay, FM Minh also met with South African Minister of Industry and Trade Rob Davies and co-chaired a ceremony celebrating the 20 th anniversary of Vietnam-South Africa diplomatic ties in Pretoria.-VNA