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S.Africa, Cuba formalise defence cooperation

Published on 10/01/2012

South Africa and Cuba on Tuesday signed a memorandum to put a stamp on the cooperation between the two country's armies, a spokesman said.

Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu signed the memorandum of understanding with Ulises Rosales del Toro, the vice-president of Cuba’s council of ministers, according to defence ministry spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini.

“We’re cementing that South Africa-Cuban defence cooperation,” Dlamini told AFP.

The two countries have already worked together in the past, but the agreement formalises exchanges in the air force, veterans, military health and education, training and development.

“They’re bringing their instructors. The main target is military health,” said Dlamini.

“The memorandum gives a framework on operations, but the details are left to the officials.”

“We are looking to introduce Cuba to our defence industry,” he said, adding that South Africa could also share its experiences in peace-keeping with Cuba.

The island state supported South Africa’s ruling African National Congress during its struggle against apartheid.

It opposed the apartheid regime and sent some 50,000 troops to Angola who fought South African apartheid forces until their withdrawal in the late ’80s.

The two countries established diplomatic relations at the fall of white-minority rule in 1994.

They set up a joint bilateral commission in February 2001 and have since cooperated in a number of projects including sending South African medical students to study in Cuba.

Cuban doctors and teachers have also come to work in South Africa.

A 2004-agreement between South Africa and Cuba resulted in the deployment of 101 Cuban doctors to Mali, with financial backing from South Africa.

In 2008 South Africa forgave Cuba’s debt of 926.8-million-rand ($117 million, 73 million euro).