South African International Relations and Co-operation Deputy Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo will pay official visits to two central Asian countries, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, beginning Wednesday.

South Africa enjoys cordial relations with both countries, as all three are developing economies and share many similar views on the multilateral fora, says the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO).

"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 challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality," the department said in a statement here.

Mfeketo's first stop will be Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, from Wednesday to Sunday. The visit to Kazakhstan will also include a brief stopover in Almaty, the commercial hub of Kazakhstan, to strengthen bilateral and economic relations between South Africa and Kazakhstan.

During the visit, Mfeketo will co-chair the 5th Round of the South Africa-Kazakhstan Bilateral Political Consultations with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Akylbek Kamaldinov.

"South Africa's main objective with the 5th Round of Bilateral Consultations is 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," the department said.

Mfeketo, who will be accompanied by delegations from the Departments of Trade and Industry and Science and Technology, will hold 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 co-operation and skills exchange.

Kazakhstan has a significant multilateral profile and will, on Jan 1, 2017, become the first central Asian state to take up a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

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.

Mfeketo will then visit Turkmenistan from Nov 14 to 15, where she will meet her counterpart and also pay a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The visit to Turkmenistan will be used to identify possible areas of co-operation in the energy, mining and agricultural sectors.


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