Russian President Vladimir Putin and South African President Jacob Zuma meet in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia.

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday discussed plans for Russia to sell passenger aircraft to South Africa and to help it create a nuclear industry.

They were meeting in the presidential Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi. Both were accompanied by several of their cabinet ministers to discuss cooperation between the two countries across a wide field.

The official Russian news agency Itar-Tass reported Putin as saying after the meeting: “Based on the considerable potential in nuclear power engineering, Russia is ready to contribute to creating an atomic industry in South Africa.”

This referred to Russian plans to bid for the contract to build six nuclear power plants if the South African government goes ahead with its giant proposed project.

Russian officials had earlier said Russia was prepared to help South Africa enrich uranium to make the fuel for these reactors in South Africa, rather than importing it.

This would create jobs and advance nuclear technology in South Africa. Putin also said after Thursday’s meeting that he and Zuma had discussed co-operation in other forms of fuel and energy, such as renewables.

And “we’re planning to jointly produce a light multipurpose helicopter,” he added. “Talks are going on to supply Russian passenger aircraft to South Africa.”

He said the general collaboration between Russia and South Africa was developing fast and had good prospects.

“It’s our third meeting in a short period of time – slightly more than a year – and that’s a good sign,” Putin said. “It shows the understanding with which we treat each other and it also shows that relations between our countries have bright prospects.”

 

Zuma confirmed that the two countries had much in common. Although he had a meeting with Putin as recently as March, before the Brics summit in Durban, he was visiting Russia because they did not have enough time then for detailed talks.

Putin said he and Zuma had also agreed to co-ordinate and increase their efforts to help settle the Syrian civil war peacefully. “We intend to continue the work on ceasing violence in Syria as soon as possible without external interference,” the Russian news agency quoted him as saying. “We’ll do our best to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

And he disclosed that Zuma had proposed that African leaders should be invited to the G20 summit in St Petersburg which he will be hosting in September this year. “We laud this initiative,” Putin said.

Zuma invited 12 African leaders for a special retreat with the five Brics leaders after their meeting among themselves at this year’s Brics summit in Durban.

Independent Foreign Service