Speaking at a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Sunday, Zuma said Pretoria aims to turn its bilateral ties with Tehran into a strategic partnership by pursuing joint objectives.
The press conference was held after senior officials from the two countries in a ceremony signed eight memorandums of understanding to promote cooperation in different fields.
Pointing to a high-ranking economic delegation accompanying him in the official visit, Zuma voiced South Africa’s eagerness to boost trade with Iran.
He further expressed confidence that a firm base has been laid for the expansion of relations between the Iranian and South African governments and nations.
For his part, the Iranian president said the two sides have weighed plans to deepen economic, trade, scientific and technological relations.
He also called for efforts to promote banking cooperation, academic and scientific interaction and tourism ties.
Given its strategic location, South Africa can link Iran to vast areas of Africa, while Iran’s southern ports can in turn connect the African country to Central Asia, the Caucasus and East Europe via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), President Rouhani added.
INSTC is a multipurpose route for the transit of goods between Iran, Russia, Europe, India and Central Asia via shipping lines, railroad and land routes.
President Rouhani further highlighted the importance of political and intelligence cooperation between Tehran and Pretoria in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
Expansion of relations with African countries in the political, economic and cultural fields is top on the agenda of the Iranian foreign policy.
An Iranian deputy foreign minister said in March that Tehran is updating a strategy for its relations with Africa, stressing that a new level is set for enhancing ties with the continent in the coming years.