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Jeff Radebe tones down SA/Nigeria diplomatic spat

The Minister seemingly distanced govt from a scathing statement issued by Dirco's Clayson Monyela.

FILE: Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe (L). Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe on Tuesday said South Africa still has "very cordial" relations with Nigeria in the wake of a diplomatic row which has now resulted in the suspension of a Nigerian official.

Radebe has seemingly distanced government from a scathing statement issued by the Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Clayson Monyela, following the recall of Nigerian diplomats from Pretoria.

On Sunday, Monyela suggested Nigeria's decision was motivated by an ulterior motive.

But on Tuesday, Radebe toned down the rhetoric.

"We still have investments in Nigeria. Our companies such as MTN, Shoprite, Standard Bank still enjoy good business in Nigeria."

It has since emerged that Nigeria's permanent secretary in the Foreign Affairs Ministry has been suspended for the "unauthorised" recall.

At the weekend, Nigeria's acting High Commissioner Martin Cobham was recalled in reaction to the xenophobic violence.

Before leaving Pretoria, Cobham told South African officials his recall from Nigeria's Consulate General in Johannesburg reflects Abuja's outrage at the wave of anti-immigrant attacks.

Nigeria's government on Tuesday also back tracked from the tough stance it took following the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Nigeria's Foreign Minister Aminu Wali said there are satisfactory indications that this country has taken firm measures to stem the tide of the attacks.