RIYADH, 15 March 2007 — Saudi Arabia and South Africa have set out a new vision of political and economic relationships following summit-level talks on a range of issues. The two countries also agreed to give a new boost to trade and investment relations and, in the presence of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, signed an agreement on Tuesday to avoid double taxation.

South African President Thabo Mbeki also witnessed the signing ceremony. Terrence Manase, a spokesman for the South African president, said, “The visit will improve political and commercial ties and will consolidate relations in other sectors.”

He said that King Abdullah and President Mbeki had exchanged views on a number of issues including the Middle East with particular focus on Iraq and Iran as well as the Palestinian situation.

“As part of strengthening economic links between the two countries, President Mbeki and his delegation also met senior Saudi government officials,” said an official communiqué released by the South African Foreign Ministry, yesterday.

Mbeki met Prince Salman, governor of Riyadh; Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah, GCC secretary-general, and Dr. Saleh Bin-Humaid, chairman of the Shoura Council in order to discuss regional and international issues of common concern.

The South African president also met Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, and addressed businessmen at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Saudi finance minister, pointed out that the Kingdom was a major supplier of crude oil to South Africa. In the first 11 months of 2006, 34.2 percent of South Africa’s crude oil was imported from the Kingdom. The Kingdom, Al-Assaf said, is also a major investor in South Africa, the biggest recent investment being that of Oger Telecoms (a subsidiary of Saudi Oger), which now owns 60 percent of shares in 3C Telecommunications, the holding company of Cell C.

Several South African companies are involved in major projects in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the mining sector, while the Kingdom is the third largest market for South Africa’s products in the Middle East.

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