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S. Africa to Israel: Nuclear Pact with Iran No Cause for Concern

South Africa’s foreign minister visited Israel this week on a landmark four-day trip expected to pave the way for a visit by President Nelson Mandela.

Alfred Nzo is the highest-ranking official to visit since Mandela’s democratically elected government took power in 1994.

Nzo assured Israel on Wednesday that it had no cause for concern about South Africa’s nuclear cooperation with Iran.

South Africa’s ties with Iran are high on the agenda, particularly its deal to sell nuclear technology to Iran.

In a media briefing before Nzo’s visit, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official reportedly accused South Africa of breaking a widely ignored U.S.-imposed trade ban on Iran.

Foreign media have reported that Israel helped South Africa develop its nuclear arsenal during the apartheid era. Israel has never officially confirmed that it has nuclear weapons.

Talks are taking place in Israel and the self-rule areas on a range of other economic and political issues, including cooperation in farming, construction and the arts.

Nzo was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as well as Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

In 1993, Mandela canceled a planned trip to Israel during the final stag of democracy negotiations in South Africa.

Arafat and Israeli President Ezer Weizman shook hands for the first time in May 1994 at a meeting brokered by Mandela in Pretoria.

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