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Durban - South Africa said Western sanctions against Iran should be lifted now that the new administration of President Hassan Rouhani has “opened a new leaf”.
The more open approach of the Rouhani government in talks with the international community about its suspected nuclear weapons programme warranted an end to sanctions, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in Pretoria on Thursday.
South Africa had suffered “collateral damage” especially from oil sanctions against Iran and these would have to go before relations could realise their full potential.
She was speaking at a joint press conference in Pretoria with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif after the two had co-chaired the 11th session of the Joint Commission between the two countries.
Zarif said that Thursday marked “the beginning of a rejuvenated relationship between Iran and South Africa” across many fields, including the political and the economic.
He praised South Africa as a “model for the rest of humanity to follow” because it had voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons.
Zarif said Iran would also do its best to contribute to global disarmament and to ensure there was no ambiguity about the peaceful intentions of its nuclear development programme, in its talks with the so-called “P5 Plus 1” countries - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: the US, China, Russia, the UK and France, plus Germany.
The government of Rouhani which took office after recent elections has taken a much more conciliatory approach than the previous government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.The UN, the US and the European Union all imposed sanctions on Iran under Ahmadinejad.