Beginning of meeting with President of South Africa Jacob Zuma 2013-05-16 16:00:00 Sochi President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, dear friends, I am very pleased to welcome you to Russia. We are meeting for the third time in a short period – just over a year – and this is a good sign. It is a sign that we pay a great deal of attention to each other, and we believe that relations between the Republic of South Africa and Russia have good prospects. In fact, we have very good political contacts, not only bilaterally but also in the international arena, within a variety of key international organisations. Our economic ties are developing. Last year, our volume of trade suddenly increased by 66 percent, even by more than that. And growth in the first quarter of this year was more than 17 percent. Many Russian companies have shown an interest in working in your country’s market, and some are already doing so quite actively, especially in the mining industry. I must add that South African companies are beginning to operate in Russia, and are quite successful. We have a lot to talk about; I’m very glad to see you, Mr President. President of South Africa Jacob Zuma: Thank you very much, Your Excellency, Mr President, I am very happy to be back here once again. And I am happy that we agreed, when we were in South Africa during the BRICS summit, that the time was too short to complete our discussions, as you were also invited to the BRICS summit. You were also there on the working visit with the Government of South Africa. We could not finish because the combination of those two needed enough time. And I am happy that we agreed to continue the discussion as this working visit now, so that we could discuss all the matters you have just mentioned. And indeed, find a very positive way of strengthening our relations. And I am happy that you have also noticed the economic character, state of growth, and deepening of our relations; we are very happy. And I believe that as partners in BRICS we need to have a lot in common. As I indicated when you were in South Africa – South Africa’s membership to BRICS to us, it means, in a way, Africa’s membership to BRICS. And therefore that is actually very important. But also we need to act in the forum of the G20, where we discuss international issues and ideas. I take it that we will take advantage of today’s working visit to discuss some of the challenging issues internationally today. So I’m very happy that we have this opportunity for this discussion. And I’m sure we will have very good discussions. Thank you very much.