SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

South Africa: Country, Cuba Bolster Relations

Pretoria — International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Marius Fransman on Friday concluded a visit to Cuba where he held a series of bilateral consultations with officials from that country.

Fransman met with key government representatives, including Hernandez Guillen, the Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment; Oscar Martinez Cordoves, the Deputy Chief of the International Relations Department of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and Rogelio Sierra Diaz, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"During these bilateral consultations, the ongoing efforts of both countries to elevate bilateral trade and commercial relations were noted. In this regard, the ratification of the Cuban Economic Assistance Package Agreement, signed earlier this year by South Africa and Cuba, was discussed.

"The renewal of the SA-Cuba Health Cooperation Agreement in July this year was also raised. Consequently, South Africa will, from September/October 2012, begin to train 1 000 students in medical science at Cuban universities," said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in a statement.

The ministers also discussed the possibility of accelerating the agreements of the newly appointed ambassadors designate to South Africa and Cuba to ensure the speedy implementation of bilateral agreements.

DIRCO said relations between South Africa and Cuba remain excellent.

"The governments of both countries share similar interests in relation to addressing the socio-economic needs and aspirations of the people of South Africa and Cuba."

Fransman's visit to Cuba was preceded by a visit to the Republic of Panama. The objectives of the two-nation visit were to follow-up on bilateral agreements and further enhance relations on the political and economic front.

Enhancing trilateral cooperation, especially in the area of health and humanitarian disasters, was raised. Fransman noted that the establishment of the South African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA) would contribute to the effective coordination of development and humanitarian assistance.

South Africa and Cuba proposed to hold a workshop on this issue, which would include the relevant stakeholders and regional institutions.

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