India and South Africa today agreed to work under the framework of a five-year strategic programme of cooperation to make their Joint Ministerial Commission more result-oriented.
At the 9th session of the JMC in Durban, co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the two sides identified several priority areas for cooperation.
A press release from the Ministry of External Affairs here said these included defence, deep-mining, science and technology, agriculture & food processing and insurance.
To facilitate this, a new Joint Working Group on Trade & Economic matters would be established, it said.
Furthermore, the South African side suggested that negotiations be launched to arrive at an India-South Africa Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA). The Indian side welcomed this. Talks would be initiated at the earliest in this regard, the release said.
The two sides also decided to set up a new Sub-Committee on Science & Technology, and promote cooperation in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
According to the release, officials from the seven sub-committees under the JMC were present at today's meeting.
Prior to the JMC, Ms Swaraj called on South African President Jacob Zuma and extended the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to him to attend the third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III) in October in New Delhi. She also invited Ms Mashabane for the event. Both President Zuma and Minister Mashabane conveyed their appreciation and stated that they look forward to a successful summit.
Ms Mashabane also assured Ms Swaraj that South Africa would support India’s membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
The two Ministers also discussed regional and multilateral issues including BRICS, IBSA, IORA, counter-terrorism, cyber security, and reforms of multilateral institutions, especially the United Nations Security Council. They recognized the need for urgent reform of the UN Security Council and agreed that 2015, being the 70th anniversary of the UN, presented a unique opportunity to expedite the reform process and work towards a concrete outcome.
The two Ministers decided to hold the next session of the JMC in India at mutually convenient dates in2017.