SHAFAQNA – Less than a month ago, Iranian foreign minister visited South Africa, a country which is considered as an old friend and strong supporter of the Iran nuclear deal. The formation of the technical commission to track the agreements reached during Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit to South Africa is being done by both sides. And a technical committee from South Africa is scheduled to travel to Tehran in the next few weeks. The committee will consist of various economic sectors. It will negotiate and finalize the Practical Mechanisms for business cooperation between the two countries within the framework of the new period and United States’ withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal. Mohsen Movahedi Qomi, Ambassador of Iran in South Africa, has discussed relations between the two countries in an interview with Shafaqna.
Shafaqna: How does the new president of South Africa affect relationship between Iran and this important African nation? Have there been any tangible changes in this regard over last few months?
Movahedi Qomi: The Islamic Republic of Iran’s relations with South Africa are historic. Iran abandoned its relationship with the apartheid regime immediately after the victory of the Islamic Revolution and supported the struggle of South African people against Racism. In the past 23 years, after the renewal of relations, these two countries have always had very friendly relations. The strong people’s position, good communication with the ANC, along with the friendly relations between the two governments and the will of the leaders of these two countries are the main bases of close relations between the two nations. So, the relations between the two countries will be very good during the presidency of Mr. Ramaphosa, as in the case of former presidents.
Shafaqna : Over the past two months, Cyril Ramafuza, President of South Africa, made Statements to support the Iran nuclear deal, and described Tramp’s withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal as a backward step. How this issue has affected on trade relations between the two countries in practice? And have the Tramp sanctions affected trade relations between the two countries?
Movahedi Qomi: Very positive stance of Mr Ramafuza towards Iran nuclear deal is principled stance of this country on supporting the Iran nuclear deal and emphasis on Existing will to keep good relations between the two countries. So According to the will of the leaders and authorities of the two nations, there will be a platform for the development of relations in the economic and business fields. However, the development of business relations between the two countries, like other economic fields, requires to utilize the potential capacities. The South Africa like the European countries, is a Private-Sector Economy and Follows the logic of capitalist economies.
Shafaqna: Iran was known as the second trading partner and Africa’s most important supplier of oil during the years 1976-1977. Is there a plan to resume the relations between two countries in the field of oil and energy?
Movahedi Qomi: Resuming crude oil purchase from the Islamic Republic of Iran by South Africa has been one of the key issues in the recent negotiations between the two countries. It cannot be conclusively concluded but South Africa has promised. However, it should also be considered that the refineries in South Africa are almost all owned by major Western oil companies (European and American). It is needed to embed the mechanisms to implement by the government of South Africa for supplying crude oil of these refineries from Iran.
Shafaqna: How will the expansion of Iran-South Africa relations affect Iran relations with other African countries and the development of the Iran market in Africa? How much capacity has been used for this issue?
Movahedi Qomi: South Africa, as the most advanced and dynamic African economy, is one of the gateways to other South African countries. The Road Network and the Advanced Transportation System provide access to South African countries.
Wide business communication with African countries, extensive commercial networks across the continent and The Direct activity of South Africa’s biggest banks in other sub-Saharan countries, provide a great capacity for cooperation between Iranian companies and South African companies in other African countries.