Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media.
This joint press briefing today follows the bilateral meeting which we have just concluded with Minister Lavrov. The meeting was a continuation of the discussions we had in November 2012, where we discussed a range of bilateral and multilateral issues.
We have been working hard on preparations for the planned State Visit of President Putin and the implementation of the 11th ITEC decisions as well as the decisions of other high level meetings, including President Zuma's official visit to Moscow in August 2010. The meeting today provided an opportunity for a frank appraisal of the status of our bilateral relations, including projects and strategic issues that will be tabled during the State Visit.
Our discussions today focused on the following issues: operationalisation of the High Level Bilateral Mechanism (BNC) as agreed in Moscow; Agreements that are ready for signing; decisions taken during the visit in January 2013 to Moscow by the South African Minister of Defence; Minister Donskoy's visit to South Africa from 3 to 6 February 2013 and the decisions taken in South Africa-Russia Business Council.
During all our recent high level engagements, South Africa and the Russian Federation both agree that our diplomatic and political relations are excellent and are practically demonstrated by close cooperation and convergence of views on several regional and multilateral issues in Africa, BRICS, the G20, United Nations, etc.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
We recognise that the level and momentum of our trade, economic relations and technical cooperation still has much potential for improvement. Our challenge and priority going forward is to focus our attention and resources on critical priorities, concrete projects and instruments that will enhance our economic relations and technical cooperation, whilst simultaneously identifying and addressing the challenges that constrain our economic relations and technical cooperation.
The planned State Visit of President Putin is an important milestone for us to deliver on commitments made during previous Presidential meetings and other high level engagements, and the signing of eight Agreements during the Presidential Visit will assist us in addressing these challenges.
There is scope for substantive and mutually beneficial cooperation arising from these Agreements in the fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, arts and culture, defence and defence industrial cooperation, education and skills development, energy, fighting crime and corruption, mining and mineral resource beneficiation, science and technology, transport, trade, investment and banking, tourism, which will enhance our commercial relations.
In conclusion, South Africa believes that our strategic and mutually beneficial partnership with the Russian Federation will continue to thrive.
I thank you!
Issued by: Department of International Relations and Cooperation
12 Feb 2013