South African President Jacob Zuma will attend Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration which “presents an ideal opportunity” to further strengthen and consolidate historic and strategic relations between the two countries.

Jacob Zuma, South African president
Jacob Zuma, South African president

The two leaders will use the opportunity to discuss regional and international issues of mutual concern, said Clayson Monyela, spokesperson of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation on Thursday.
The inauguration is scheduled for May 29 in Abuja, Nigeria. At the event, Buhari will be sworn in following his victory during the presidential election held on March 28.
In his congratulatory message, Zuma expressed his commitment to working closely with Buhari to enhance the good bilateral relations which exist between South Africa and Nigeria, paying particular focus on the strengthening of economic cooperation.
But relations between the two countries were affected by xenophobia attacks in parts of South Africa in April, which prompted Nigeria to recall its envoys to South Africa in protest, as reported by the media.
Nigeria, however, denied recalling its envoys to South Africa in protest against the xenophobic attacks which killed seven people and displaced thousands of foreign nationals, including Nigerians. Nigeria has a population of over 450,000 in South Africa.
Nigerian presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said at that time that the charge d’affaires in South Africa was not recalled but went back to Nigeria for “routine consultation.”
The two countries have taken steps to prevent a diplomatic row. The upcoming visit by Zuma is seen as a sign that the two countries have left behind the xenophobia attacks.
South Africa and Nigeria enjoy warm and cordial relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1994, which culminated in the creation of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) in 1999, Monyela said.
The two countries have already signed 34 bilateral agreements and cooperation continues to grow, he said.
The total trade between South Africa and Nigeria increased from 15 billion rand (about 1.25 billion US dollars) in 2009 to 42 billion rand in 2013. The South African exports to and imports from Nigeria from January to December 2014 stood at 10.5 billion rand and 55.7 billion rand respectively.
Nigeria enjoys a surplus trade balance with South Africa, which is attributable to huge quantities of oil imports from Nigeria. Meanwhile, South Africa exports vehicles, aircrafts and vessels, iron and steel products, machinery and equipment and plastics and rubber. Enditem

-Xinhua

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