Vladimir Putin has become the first Russian president to visit South Africa in a trip aimed at forging closer diplomatic and business links. Soon after arriving in Cape Town from Greece, Putin went into talks with President Thabo Mbeki. Moscow was one of the African National Congress’ most important backers during the apartheid years when it was an illegal movement. But the visit is motivated by hard economic considerations more than nostalgia and Putin is accompanied by 100 business leaders. They hope to build bridges between two of the world’s biggest emerging market economies.
During the two-day trip, investment firm Renova is expected to announce an agreement on a ferro-alloy plant. Putin will also oversee the signing of a memorandum of understanding between De Beers and Alrosa, the South African and Russian firms that account for around 75 percent of the world’s diamond mining.