Iran, South Africa sign agreement in Pretoria ahead of BRICS summit

The South African and Iranian foreign ministers have signed a cooperation deal ahead of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, which Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi will attend.

Iran and South Africa signed a cooperation agreement in Pretoria Thursday during Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor as the Islamic Republic pitches its membership in the BRICS group of developing economies.

The signing took place after the two countries’ top diplomats co-chaired the 15th South Africa-Iran Joint Commission of Cooperation.

Iran is looking to join BRICS, the influential group of developing economies consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. As chair of the group of five countries seen as an alternative to the Western hegemony, South Africa will host the annual BRICS summit in Johannesburg Aug. 22-24. Iranian President Raisi will visit South Africa to attend the meeting, during which new applicants will be considered.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the ministers emphasized “the need for comprehensive political and economic cooperation between the two countries to enhance intercontinental and global interactions.”

The statement went on that Amir-Abdollahian made the case for Iran to join BRICS and urged South Africa to support Tehran’s bid for membership. Pandor expressed support for Iran’s bid, it read.

“We hope to obtain the opportunity of accelerated membership under strong support we hope to receive from South Africa,” Amir-Abdollohian said at a briefing in Pretoria.

Pandor discussed the current political and security situations of African countries. She stressed Pretoria’s support for the Palestinian people and claimed the United Nations showed disregard for the Palestinian people’s choices.

Iran’s foreign minister expressed approval of South Africa’s stance and said Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s proposal for resolving the Palestinian issue through a referendum among all Palestinians was the “only legitimate solution” to the Palestinian crisis.

Amir-Abdollahian also broached the topics of the Ukraine war and civil unrest in Sudan as well as Yemen and Palestine, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.

Iran has been accused of supplying Russia with Shahed drones for use in its war against Ukraine. At the meeting with Pandor, Amir-Abdollahian refuted these allegations, claiming that Ukraine had not produced proof of Iran’s involvement during a meeting between Iranian and Ukrainian military delegations in Muscat. However, the use of these drones in Ukraine has been well documented.

The two also discussed the security and political situation in Afghanistan, including the oppression of women in the country and the significant influx of Afghan refugees into Iran, the Foreign Ministry reported. Amir-Abdollahian attributed the current challenges of drug trafficking, security issues and refugees to the two decades of US occupation in Afghanistan.

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