Deputy Minister Mfeketo to undertake official visit to Central Asia
The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Nomaindiya Mfeketo, will pay an official visit to two Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan, from 9 to 13 November 2016, and Turkmenistan from 14 to 15 November 2016. Whilst Deputy Minister Mfeketo has visited Kazakhstan previously, it will be the first visit by a South African Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation to Turkmenistan since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992.
Deputy Minister Mfeketo’s first stop on her Central Asian tour will be Astana, capital city of Kazakhstan. The visit to the Central Asian country, which will also include a brief stop-over in Almaty, the commercial hub of Kazakhstan, is aimed at strengthening bilateral and economic relations between South Africa and Kazakhstan.
During the visit, Deputy Minister Mfeketo will co-chair the 5th Round of the South Africa-Kazakhstan Bilateral Political Consultations with Mr Akylbek Kamaldinov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan. South Africa’s main objectives with the 5th Round of Bilateral Consultations are to strengthen bilateral political and economic relations, by intensifying cooperation in trade and investment and supporting the expansion of cultural and people-to-people interaction between the two countries.
Deputy Minister Mfeketo, who will be accompanied by delegations from the Departments of Trade and Industry and Science and Technology, will also have high-level meetings with business sector representatives and academia to promote South Africa as a destination for trade, investment and tourism and to explore future academic cooperation and skills exchange.
Kazakhstan has a significant multilateral profile and will, on 1 January 2017, become the first Central Asian state that will take up a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. With this in mind, the Deputy Minister’s visit is viewed by both countries as an opportunity to discuss multilateral matters of mutual concern such as the slow pace of reform of important international institutions such as the UNSC.
Deputy Minister will then proceed to Turkmenistan from 14 – 15 November 2016. It is expected that the Deputy Minister will meet with her Turkmen counterpart and also pay a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The visit to Turkmenistan will furthermore be utilised to identify possible areas of cooperation in the energy, mining and agricultural sectors.
South Africa enjoys cordial relations with both Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as all three are developing economies and share many similar views in the multilateral fora. The South African Government believes that the consolidation of its bilateral relations with these two Central Asian countries will assist to achieve some if its main objectives to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.