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South Africa Explores Iraq Ties

April 5, 1998

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ South African is exploring the opening of diplomatic relations with Iraq, a foreign affairs spokesman confirmed Sunday.

``A senior foreign ministry official visited Iraq last year to meet with Iraqi authorities,″ said spokesman Marco Boni.

Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad was asked about Iraq during a briefing Friday in Durban about the upcoming Nonaligned Movement meeting in South Africa later this year, Boni said.

Iraq belongs to the organization of nonaligned countries, a group formed during the Cold War by nations that sided with neither the United States or the former Soviet Union.

Iraq is one of the few countries that South Africa has not taken up relations with since President Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress was elected in 1994′s first all-race elections.

During U.S. President Bill Clinton’s visit to South Africa last week, Mandela suggested that Clinton seek reconciliation with three other nations that are boycotted by the U.S. _ Cuba, Iran and Libya.

South Africa has befriended the three nations for their support of the anti-apartheid struggle previous to 1994.

But Iraq was not mentioned by Mandela during Clinton’s visit.

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