Zuma off to Saudi Arabia on state visit
President Jacob Zuma will on Sunday be the second South African president to undertake a state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This will‚ the Presidency said on Friday‚ come a day ahead of a working visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It noted in a statement that the late former President Nelson Mandela paid the first state visit there in 1997‚ and Zuma’s predecessor‚ Thabo Mbeki‚ went to Saudi Arabia on a working visit in 2007.
Zuma will be leading a high-level delegation‚ which includes the minsters of international relations and cooperation‚ state security‚ trade and Industry‚ home affairs‚ and police.
The Saudi visit “will serve as an important structural catalyst to strengthen bilateral political and economic relations‚ in particular by strengthening cooperation in the areas of trade and investment and in support of expanding cultural and people-to-people interaction between the two countries”.
The UAE visit follows the Inaugural Session of the Joint Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the United Arab Emirates held in Abu Dhabi” in August last year.
“This year‚ South Africa will host the second SA-UAE Joint Commission aimed at measuring progress in targeted sectors of the bilateral relationship and to manage and direct the implementation of mutually agreed upon bilateral programmes‚” the Presidency said.
It described South Africa and Saudi Arabia as enjoying “cordial bilateral relations”‚ and said “Saudi Arabia took a leading position in the Arab world in opposing the injustices of the Apartheid system”.
Of the UAE‚ the Presidency said “South Africa and the UAE enjoy a strong bond of friendship and strategic bilateral relations”.
The countries’ relationship is “characterised by the exchange of several high-level visits‚ a high level of trade and economic interaction‚ multiple daily flights between the UAE and three South African cities‚ and a large South African expatriate community in the UAE”.