TEHRAN, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- Iranian senior officials on Saturday called for enhancing comprehensive ties with South Africa.
Speaking at a meeting with Baleka Mbete, visiting Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described the relations between the two countries as "cordial and growing," Tasnim news agency reported.
Rouhani stressed the Iran's support for South Africa's past anti-apartheid struggle led by Nelson Mandela, and hailed the development of the mutual ties after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is willing to strengthen relations with African countries, especially South Africa, in all areas," he was quoted as saying.
For her part, Mbete said South Africa is also resolved to boost relations with Iran in all spheres, particularly on the parliamentary levels.
Expansion of relations with African nations in all political, economic and cultural fields is high on the agenda of Iran's foreign policy.
Rouhani, who was re-elected Iran's president in May, has repeatedly stressed his government's interest in boosting relations with African states.
Earlier in the day, Iranian Majlis (parliament) speaker also said Iran welcomes expansion of comprehensive ties with South Africa.
Ali Larijani made the remarks at a joint press conference with Mbete, the Arabic Satellite TV channel Alalam reported.
"The visit has created great opportunities for development of bilateral cooperation," Larijani said, adding that "various venues were reviewed for mutual investments and ways were sought to achieve the expected level of bilateral trade."
Iran could make investments in South Africa, especially in the field of electricity generation, and it welcomes South Africa's engagement in the Iranian oil, gas and petrochemicals industries, Larijani said.
"The meeting also touched upon development of transport between the two countries, as well as cooperation in the fight against terrorism and exchange of relevant information," he said.
As for the regional issues, Larijani appreciated what he called the stance taken by South Africa on defending rights of the people of Palestine.
Larijani hoped that the visit by the South African parliamentary delegation would pave the way for promotion of trade relations between the two sides.
Mbete, meanwhile, said parliaments could play a major role in improving ties between the two nations.
She said South Africa acknowledges Iran's achievements in the field of education and expressed hope that Larijani will make a visit to her country by the end of year.
Mbete also said her country supports Iran's bid to join the BRICS group, which currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, according to Tasnim.
The National Assembly of South Africa supports Iran's membership because the country can play a positive role in the further development of the BRICS countries, she said.
Taken together, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, cover 40 percent of the world's population and more than 25 percent of the world's land.
South African telecommunication MTN company has reached a preliminary agreement with Iran to invest over 295 million U.S. dollars in Iran's broadband network.
Earlier this year, MTN invested in Iran Internet Group, which runs a car-hailing app called Snapp.ir.
MTN also said it is considering an investment of 40 million dollars to buy a 49-percent stake in the Iranian Net company and to invest 3.4 billion rands (263 million U.S. dollars) in both equity and loans to help the Iranian company develop a fiber network over the next five years.
In the meantime, Iran's Petroleum Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said Iran is ready to purchase shares of the refineries in South Africa, aiming at guaranteeing long-term oil exports to the country.