Pretoria: South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday said that the country`s foreign policy was not dictated by any other country, individuals or lobby groups, amid growing criticism that he had delayed the issuance of a visa to Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama due to Chinese pressure.
Zuma said South Africa`s foreign policy was independent and the country`s decisions were informed by its national interest.
"We look at what is of benefit to the South African people, and what will advance our domestic priorities at that given time," said Zuma while delivering a lecture on South Africa`s foreign policy at the University of Pretoria.
Zuma comments were largely seen as reaction to widespread speculation that a delay in issuing the Dalai Lama a visa was due to pressure from South Africa`s largest trading partner China.
The Dalai Lama last week called off a week-long trip which would have started with joining his fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for his 80th birthday and then several public lectures.
Zuma also explained that South Africa recognised the "One China Policy" that was adopted in 1998 immediately after the de-recognition of Taiwan in 1997 and the recognition of the People`s Republic of China.
"The ‘One China Policy’ is aimed at addressing the question of the territorial sovereignty of China as the sole and legitimate representative of all the people of that country, with which we have strong historical, political, economic and social relations," Zuma said.
"We firmly believe that the challenges facing humanity cannot be solved unilaterally. We are therefore proponents of South-South cooperation, North-South partnerships and the strengthening of the multilateral system," Zuma said as he expanded on the country`s international relations policy.
"We participate in various multilateral fora, including SADC, the AU, Non-Aligned Movement, G77 plus China, the Commonwealth, BRICS, India-Brazil-South Africa forum (IBSA) and the United Nations."
Zuma has been at the forefront of promoting relations at the highest level between India and China in particular, having led large delegations to both those countries last year.
Touching on the Fifth IBSA Summit which will be hosted in Pretoria from October 17 to 18, Zuma said: "The three countries will work towards finalising a trilateral Preferential Trade Agreement that will further stimulate trilateral trade."
"Our pressing priority currently is the reform of international institutions, including the United Nations Security Council. Africa and Latin America are not represented as permanent members on the Council. This is a serious anomaly which reflects negatively on the UN system," said Zuma.
"The time has come for Africa to be represented at that level in this world body," he underlined.