Cape Town, (IANS) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged South Africa to use its “rare authority” to persuade Iran in giving up its nuclear programme, Xinhua reported Wednesday.
Speaking at the University of Western Cape, the visiting the US secretary said “as the first country to voluntarily give up nuclear weapons, South Africa speaks with rare authority”.
She said South Africa, which voluntarily abandoned its nuclear weapons program in 1989, can deliver a convincing message to Iran.
“You can most convincingly make the case that giving up nuclear weapons is a sign of strength, not weakness,” the visiting US secretary added.
She said South Africa should play a much more important role in everything from promoting economic development to solving global challenges such as the Syrian crisis and the impasse over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Despite Western pressure, South Africa has maintained long- standing cooperation with Iran, from where Pretoria had imported about 30 percent of its crude oil.
But Pretoria cut all crude oil imports from Iran in June amid heavy European and US sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.
“Few countries on this continent can carry as much weight or be such effective partners and leaders as South Africa,” the US secretary said.
Last month, South Africa abstained from voting on the latest UN Security Council resolution sponsored by the US, calling the document “one-sided”.
Cape Town is part of Clinton’s four-day visit to South Africa. She will travel to Nigeria from Cape Town Thursday as part of her 11-day African tour.