BuaNews (Tshwane)

South Africa: Serbia Backs SA for UN Security Council Seat

Pretoria — While pushing for reforms in international institutions, Serbia on Monday announced that it will back South Africa's candidature for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2011-2012 term.

This emerged following bilateral talks between International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Serbian Foreign Affairs Minister Vuk Jeremic that identified priority areas for cooperation in line with their countries' national development priorities.

"South Africa can fully count on Serbia ...we can't wait for you [South Africa] to be back in the Security Council," Jeremic told a media briefing in Pretoria after the talks.

South Africa has been canvassing for votes for the UNSC seat-with the countries in the African Union and India among others- supporting it.

Elections for the UNSC will be held during the 65th session of the UN General Assembly in New York in October. If elected, South Africa will serve a second term as a non-permanent member of the council.

Bilateral relations between South Africa and Serbia are set to advance with both countries agreeing to cooperate further in areas of economic, commercial, education and crime fighting among others.

The two countries also have eight pending agreements in various fields including an agreement that will deal with combating translational crimes. Through the agreement, the two countries will work jointly in detecting crimes which are being planned or have been committed.

Nkoana-Mashabane said Serbia is a very important partner that could help government meet its key priorities that include the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods, education, health, rural development, food security and land reform and the fight against crime and corruption.

She said the two countries could learn a lot from one another because of political turbulence that the countries had suffered.

"Serbia is a very important ally of the of SA on the international floor particularly with issues of reforms and UN ...we have also noted that South Africa has not taken full advantage of these strong bilateral relations and ties," said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Nkoana-Mashabane was also upbeat about the advancement of their bilateral relations. She said a high level delegation from both countries would meet to look at the opportunities that the countries' economies can offer.

Jeremic who is on his second visit to the country- having attended President Jacob Zuma's inauguration last year-reaffirmed the need to strengthen their existing relations and further expand cooperation between the two countries.

Jeremic said there would be more high level engagements in the near future.

Both ministers expressed satisfaction at the level of their relations, particularly bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the two countries.

South Africa and Serbia share similar values on many international issues and have supported each other's candidatures for non-permanent seats at the UNSC and on the Human Rights Council.

Besides its EU ambitions, Serbia is using all available diplomatic and legal means to continue to fight to preserve the territorial integrity over Kosovo and one priority is the regional relations, including protecting the rights of Serbs in the Balkans, the department said.

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