'SA is Russia's leading trade partner in Africa'

The comment was made by Russian president Vladimir Putin

President Jacob Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture: AFP.

MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin has called South Africa Russia's leading trade partner on the African continent.

A South African delegation headed by President Jacob Zuma is in Moscow and has been holding a series of meetings to further cement relations between the two countries.

Zuma is accompanied by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

In a meeting with president Zuma over the weekend, Putin said relations between Moscow and Pretoria has a special character.

Putin advocated the development of the BRICS group, of which South Africa is a member, as a vehicle for improving the economies of both countries.

President Zuma thanked his Russian counterparts for the warm welcome and also for inviting him to the Victory Parade that marked 70 years since the end of the World War II.

In interviews with the Russian press, Zuma criticised the existing international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, saying African countries got into more difficulties by relying on their assistance, which is why he supported the idea of the BRICS bank.

A series of bilateral meetings between the two countries were attended by Russia's Foreign Minister, Russian advisor to the president and the Head of the Russian Ministry of Nature.