South Africa said Friday it remains committed to supporting Iran, despite constraints faced by the oil-rich nation.
"I would like to emphasize that we, as South Africa, regard the decision of the U.S. government to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) [more commonly known as the nuclear deal] as regrettable," Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Reginah Mhaule told her visiting Iranian counterpart Abbas Araghchi at a meeting in Cape Town.
In 2015, Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement that would lift sanctions against Iran if it agreed to roll back its nuclear program.
Last year, however, President Donald Trump decided to pull the U.S. out of the deal signed by his predecessor and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.
"South Africa has always believed in diplomacy and the peaceful resolution of conflicts as a matter of principle. We consider the JCPOA a significant achievement in this regard," Mhaule said in a media statement released after the meeting.
The two deputy ministers held talks on several bilateral issues during their ninth Deputy Ministerial Working Group Meeting between South Africa and Iran.
"Your Excellency, despite all the constraints, we [South Africa] remain committed to continue to support the Islamic Republic of Iran," Mhaule said.
She further stated that her country believes that the JCPOA would have provided the necessary framework and confidence-building measures under which Iran would have been able to pursue its nuclear activities for peaceful purposes.
"It is my firm belief that today's meeting will add further momentum to our bilateral relations such that South Africa and Iran will weather the storm together," she added.
By Hassan Isilow in Johannesburg