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EghtesadOnline: The top South African lawmaker said her country is interested to see Iran joining BRICS and will push for that, believing the 80-million nation could lend considerable weight to the bloc.

Speaker of South African National Assembly Baleka Mbete made the statement in a press conference with her Iranian counterpart, Ali Larijani, after meeting Larijani and President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Saturday, IRNA reported.

BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Iran, the second largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa region, has announced its willingness to join the group and enjoys friendly relations with all of its members, according to Financial Tribune.

The South African legislator said her country believes if Iran becomes a member, the bloc will enjoy stronger growth and faster development.

"We know about Iran's population, its strategic location and its progress in various fields, including education. So we believe Iran's entry into BRICS can be influential," she said.

In the presser, Larijani said the two sides discussed grounds for investment cooperation in various sectors.

"The two countries can have great collaboration in the fields of oil, gas, petrochemicals, transport and electricity generation," he said.

Larijani said they also discussed counter-terrorism cooperation and intelligence sharing on terrorist activity.

***Iran Pleased With Cordiality

Before meeting Larijani, Mbete sat down for talks with the recently reelected Rouhani.

Rouhani said in the meeting he is pleased with the massive expansion of relations between the two countries since the apartheid regime in the African country was ousted.

Iran cut ties with the white supremacist regime in South Africa right after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and resumed relations only after Nelson Mandela was elected as its first black president in 1994.

The president said the trip of South African President Jacob Zuma to Iran in April 2016 was helpful in strengthening friendly ties between the two countries.

During the Zuma trip, the second South African state visit to Iran after Mandela came in 1999, the two countries signed eight cooperation agreements.

It came after the 2015 nuclear deal that took effect in January 2016 to remove international sanctions on Iran and open its path to greater international engagement.

Rouhani said his government is looking forward to consolidating bonds of friendship with South Africa.

"Tehran embraces closer economic cooperation with Pretoria, especially in mining and energy fields, and is ready to export technical and engineering services to the country," he said.

Mbete said her country is keen on enhancing relations with Tehran, with which it shares views on many international issues.

"We should boost our cooperation in the international arena with the aim of promoting global peace and friendship," she said.

Mbete, who arrived in Iran at the head of a parliamentary delegation Friday morning, was also to meet Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Valiollah Seif.


Ali Larijani BRICS BRICS Accession Iran BRICS Accession Iran BRICS Iran South Africa Baleka Mbete