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Russia, South Africa to expand cooperation
September 3, 2013, 2:13 am

Lavrov, right, thanked South Africa for its support during Moscow's G20 presidency [AP]

Lavrov, right, thanked South Africa for its support during Moscow’s G20 presidency [AP]

Moscow is looking to increase cooperation with Pretoria, particularly in the economic sector, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during bilateral talks with his South African counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Monday.

“This year we held two Russo-South African summits [and] signed a treaty on all-encompassing strategic partnership. Our task is to preserve the high level of cooperation with South Africa,” Lavrov said following the talks in Moscow.

The two sides stressed trade turnover and investment cooperation; they inked several agreements at previous meetings in Durban and Sochi.

On Monday, the South African delegation also attended the 2013 Moscow’s International Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS) air show in Zhukovsky, a district of Moscow.

“We have some interesting joint projects in the aircraft industry. This March, we opened a regional Russian helicopters service centre in Johannesburg, and plan to jointly produce a lightweight multi-purpose helicopter,” Lavrov said.

Nkoana-Mashabane has also indicated that the two countries plan to work on joint development in the oil industry.

Lavrov thanked his South African counterpart for the support provided during Russia’s presidency in G20, and said the BRICS heads of state will meet on the sidelines of the upcoming summit in St Petersburg.

Lavrow also said that Russia would be opening a trade mission in Johannesburg.

Nuclear cooperation

In the meantime, the two countries are moving head with joint work in South Africa’s nuclear energy sector.

Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy firm Rosatom said on August 15 that it would create thousands of jobs in new nuclear units in association with stakeholders of the South African nuclear programme.

“The implementation of the South African nuclear generation development program together with Rosatom would allow [for the creation of] 15,000 additional jobs in construction, service and operation of the new units, as well as several thousands of jobs in related industries,” said Boris Arseev, Vice-President of JSC Rusatom Overseas, a subsidiary of Rosatom.

The nuclear cooperation comes following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s commitment during a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma in Sochi last May to help Pretoria develop an advanced nuclear energy industry.

“We see great potential for cooperation in nuclear energy. Russia is ready to provide assistance in creating a comprehensive nuclear energy industry in South Africa,” Putin told the press at the time.

By Daria Chernyshova in Moscow, Russia for The BRICS Post