Iranian parliamentarians sign six mutual agreements in South Africa
by MPHAHLELE KUNENE
(l-r) Laleh Iftikhari, Hujjatul Salek and Muponisi Nkuna Photo: Sello Motsei
Hujjatul Salek, Iranian Chairperson in the Portfolio of Arts and Culture Committee and Member of Parliament in Tehran, has hailed the recent signing of six-bilateral agreements between South Africa’s Department of Arts &Culture and the National Library of South Africa as an epitome of the two countries ‘good diplomatic relations’.
Salek was speaking to The Diplomatic Society in an interview at the Sheraton Hotel, after the two countries signed mutual agreements in the fields of Arts & Culture, ICT, Environmental Research, digitization, e-publications and cataloguing.
Salek said the signing of these agreements follows several meetings held between the two nations during 2012 and late last year. During a breakfast function hosted by the Iranian Embassy in South Africa both South Africa’s Department of Arts &Culture and the National Library of South Africa committed their respective departments in implementing the agreements.
“Today’s accord is a step in the right direction in strengthening our relations. Our country’s officials together with their South African counterparts have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure this accord becomes implementable and succeeds,” said Salek.
Among the essential fields agreed upon are; organising training courses, workshops, seminars and exhibitions in various fields of mutual interest. This will be coupled with facilitating the participation of experts of their respective institutions in meetings, events, and conferences taking place in tertiary institutions. The bilateral accord documents also specify that the parties will exchange experiences with specialists in the area of digitizations, e-publications, environment conversations, cataloguing and technical information and public services.
Iran also said it will undertake to facilitate cooperation in the field of research, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and librarianship in order to share knowledge of modern technologies.
In addition, the two parties further undertook to allow reciprocal official[s] visits of writers, experts and officials of their respective countries. Furthermore, the documents state that both nations have expressed willingness to exchange documentaries exhibits in reflecting the cultural heritage of both countries.
In echoing the sentiments of Salek, Laleh Iftikhari Member of Parliament and representative of the Arts and Culture Committee in Iran, said she was influential in making sure that within the accord women’s issues are included. She also emphasized that the South African counterparts, in expanding the scope of the accord, also expressed their commitment in the concept.
“In our deliberations we made it clear that we want to see women also taking part in activities to develop their skills and South Africa was in agreement. More importantly we want to highlight that our country is taking women development and activities seriously within all sectors of society,” she said.
Muponisi Nkuna, Deputy Manager of Corporate and International Relations at the National Library of South African (NLSA), said he was excited by the agreements reached and is keen in sharing with his Iranian counterparts the modern technology within the library sector. Nkuna further said the signing will improve how libraries are viewed within the broader society. “As NLSA, we are excited and look forward to working with our Iranian counterparts. We are happy that this will change that people view libraries as more than just reading facilities,” he said.