Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama. Picture: Haakon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix via AP/African News Agency
Johannesburg - After a gap of six years, the foreign ministers of South Africa and Nigeria finally presided over a Binational Commission (BNC) in Pretoria on Wednesday.

In her opening remarks at the BNC, Minister for International Relations Naledi Pandor warmly greeted her counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama, saying: “South Africa considers Nigeria a great friend and strategic partner. Nigeria became the only west African country to become a member of the Frontline States, and indeed occupied the trenches of struggle with us. The historic bonds established during the liberation Struggle continue today.”

Pandor thanked Onyeama for the assistance given to South Africa during the recent outbreak of violence against foreign nationals and South Africans.

“We have expressed regret at these terrible events on several occasions, personally, as well as through our president and his special envoys. I was most appreciative of your openness in discussing these challenges with me and the assurance you gave and acted on in support of our missions and South African businesses that faced retaliatory attacks,” Pandor said.

The ninth session of the BNC has been touted as clear evidence of the intentions to further deepen ties between the two nations. South Africa is determined to continue implementing development strategies that will ensure economic growth, socio-economic development and inclusive prosperity for the mutual benefit of South Africans and Nigerians.

“South Africa is determined to continue working together with our sister country, Nigeria, to fast-track continental co-operation and to take stock of the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement,” Pandor said.