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Iran's Zarif in Pretoria to hold talks with South African officials

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd L) meets with his South African counterpart, Lindiwe Sisulu, in Pretoria on June 12, 2018. (Photo by IRNA)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is in South Africa at the head of a politico-economic delegation to hold talks with the country’s senior officials on bilateral relations and the future of the Iran nuclear deal following the US’s pullout.

Zarif met his South African counterpart, Lindiwe Sisulu, in Pretoria on Tuesday and is slated to sit down with President Cyril Ramaphosa later on Wednesday.

The Iranian and south African foreign ministers are also expected to hold a second round of talks on Wednesday.

Upon his arrival in Pretoria, Zarif described South Africa as “one of the close partners” of the Islamic Republic.

Zarif said the Iranian delegates would hold talks with their South African counterparts on the expansion of bilateral relations as well as ways for the international community to adopt a unified stance against Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The top Iranian diplomat further expressed hope that his discussions with South African officials would be constructive, serve the interests of both nations and help regional peace and stability.

He also stressed that Iran has always stood by the South African nation, and that Pretoria, in exchange, supported the Iranian nation’s nuclear rights.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Zarif said following Washington's exit from the Iran deal, all the remaining parties have announced their commitment to taking measures that would ensure Iran’s economic benefits.

The European Union countries, along with the Russians and the Chinese, are working on the issue, he said, warning, however, “The time is limited.”

Last month, US President Donald Trump announced Washington’s pullout from the JCPOA, vowing to reinstate nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also threatened Iran with the “strongest sanctions in history” if it did not comply with a list of steep demands.

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