Iran Nuclear NewsSouth Africa and Iran to discuss nuclear, Mideast, trade...

South Africa and Iran to discuss nuclear, Mideast, trade issues

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AFP: South Africa’s Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will this week meet her Iranian counterpart for talks touching on Tehran’s nuclear programme, the Middle East and trade, her spokesman said Sunday. JOHANNESBURG, Aug 20, 2006 (AFP) – South Africa’s Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will this week meet her Iranian counterpart for talks touching on Tehran’s nuclear programme, the Middle East and trade, her spokesman said Sunday.

Manouchehr Mottaki is expected in South Africa on Monday for a two-day session of a joint bilateral commission between the host country and Iran — one of South Africa’s chief suppliers of oil, said Ronnie Mamoepa.

“Issues on the agenda of discussions between Ministers Dlamini-Zuma and Mottaki are expected to include among others Iran’s nuclear programme and the current crisis in the Middle East,” he said in a statement, issued from Pretoria.

Iran said Sunday that the suspension of uranium enrichment was not on its agenda, just two days before it has to respond to an offer by world powers aimed at securing a freeze of nuclear work.

The UN Security Council has given Iran until August 31 to halt enrichment and reprocessing activities or face possible sanctions, amid Western fears its nuclear programme is a cover for efforts to build an atomic bomb.

Tehran is due to respond on August 22 to reply to a package of incentives offered by major powers in return for a freeze in enrichment, which creates fuel for nuclear power plants but can also be used to make the core of a bomb.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has said there should be “no nuclear weapons for Iran, absolutely,” but that Theran should be allowed to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Mamoepa said talks would also look at the current crisis in the Middle East, where Hezbollah fighters have been locked in battle with the Israeli army in southern Lebanon.

Shiite-majority Iran helped to create and arm Hezbollah in 1982, but denies allegations it is channeling weapons to the movement, saying it only provides “moral support”.

South Africa also wanted to discuss a 13.5 billion dollar trade imbalance in Iran’s favour, mainly as a result of oil imports from the Middle Eastern country, Mamoepa said.

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