Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 219

The deputy president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, wound up a three-day visit to Russia yesterday which resulted in the signing of several intergovernmental agreements and expressions of satisfaction from both sides. The most noteworthy event of the visit, however, was the announcement that South African President Nelson Mandela will visit Moscow in April of next year.

Mbeki met during his stay with Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and a host of government ministers, as well as with Russia Duma chairman Gennady Seleznev. Following the talks with Primakov the two sides announced that they had signed agreements on the encouragement and mutual protection of capital investments, and on cooperation in both tourism and physical culture and sport. A memorandum was also signed on mutual understanding between Russia’s Ministry for Natural Resources and the South African Council for Land Sciences (Russian agencies, November 23-24; Xinhua, November 23).

The two sides also reportedly gave considerable attention to questions of military-technical cooperation between Russia and South Africa. Mbeki said that several possible projects had been identified and would be studied by the two governments, but did not elaborate. Russian government sources, meanwhile, observed that earlier ties between the Soviet Union and the African National Congress (ANC) had unexpectedly failed to produce arms sales for Moscow even following the ANC’s rise to power in 1994. A 1995 agreement on military cooperation between Moscow and South Africa yielded similarly disappointing results for Russia. The same observers suggested that Russia’s efforts to sell military hardware to South Africa are now likely to be hamstrung by Pretoria’s policy of requiring its arms suppliers to invest in the South African economy. Given its own financial difficulties, Moscow will not likely be able to meet that requirement (Russian agencies, November 23-24).