WORLD

South Africa, Zimbabwe vow to enhance bilateral ties

SOUTH AFRICA, ZIMBABWE VOW TO ENHANCE BILATERAL TIES

President Jacob Zuma and his visiting Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe Tuesday agreed to enhance bilateral relations between their countries.

"Our historical, fraternal and cultural bonds demand that we meet on regular basis to strengthen and consolidate our bilateral cooperation and partnership," Zuma said at the opening of the 2nd Session of the Bi-National Commission.

The two leaders flanked by a delegation of their respective ministers and government officials met in the capital Pretoria.

Zuma said his country notes with satisfaction the ever-growing cooperation with Zimbabwe as evidenced by a number of existing agreements.

For his part, Mugabe said the two countries needed to continue strengthening their bilateral cooperation because they are neighbors, who share a lot in common including their struggle against imperialism.

"We are one people, one revolution, one struggle and one future," Mugabe said at the meeting amidst cheers from officials.

The two countries are expected to sign more agreements later in the day.

They already have agreements enabling them to cooperate in areas of justice, defense, transport, water, science and technology among others.

South Africa is Zimbabwe's largest trading partner in the region. It imports several raw materials including tobacco and cotton from its neighbor and exports processed foods and other goods to Zimbabwe.

During Tuesday's meeting, the two leaders agreed on the strategic importance of establishing a one-stop border post at the Beitbridge Border, which is the busiest border post on the continent.

"Much of our goods and services go through it. We cannot afford to continue to have unnecessary delays at that border,'' the South African president said.

The 93-year-old Zimbabwean leader also suggested that 15 regional southern African member states should develop a mechanism for disaster preparedness.

In the past two years, several southern African countries have been experiencing drought conditions, affecting the gross domestic product of many agricultural based economies.

Experts blame the El Nino effect, a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean, for heat waves in the southern Africa region.

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