External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar invoked the three-decade-old ties between India and South Africa stating that there is a very "deeply emotional" connection between the two countries.
He said India's and South Africa's respective struggles were "deeply intertwined".
Jaishankar made these remarks while interacting with the Indian diaspora in Cape Town. He is in the South African city to attend the BRICS Foreign Ministers' Meeting.
Prior to his address, the EAM paid homage to the victims of the horrific train accident in Odisha on Friday evening.
Jaishankar's address before the Indian diaspora focused on three subjects -- "Thirty years of India-South Africa ties", "15 years of BRICS" and "9 years of Modi Sarkar."
Speaking on the decades-old India-South Africa ties, which will be formally marking years this November, the External Affairs Minister said he thinks that the connections are not just between two countries who have similar views.
"There is something very deeply emotional about our connect," he said.
Jaishankar added that when India achieved its independence, there was a very strong sentiment that its independence would be incomplete until South Africa became a free country.
"And the reason for that was that our respective struggles were so deeply intertwined," he said, adding, "And that was, of course, most vividly expressed by the personality and by the message of Mahatma Gandhi. Now, as we became independent and continued to support South Africa in its struggle against apartheid, the symbolism of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi took very deep root."
Jaishankar also recalled that when South Africa got its independence, there was as much celebration in India as there was in there.
"And I still remember at that time, I was actually in Delhi, and I remember all our public buildings Rashavati Bhavan, the Parliament, the central Secretariat were all actually lit up for in celebration of what was happening here. And when we did establish our diplomatic footprint, this was actually a country where we not only had a high commission, but also three other cities had an almost immediate presence of India-Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban," he said.
The EAM also said that India had invited President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa as the chief guest to the Republic Day in 2019.
"We have really India and South Africa located at two different continents, but working together very closely in the United Nations, in the BRICS of which we are members in a body called IPSA, which is India, Brazil and South Africa, and in a variety of ways between the two of us directly now," he added.
The relations between India and South Africa in these three decades have "flowered in every conceivable sense", Jaishankar noted.
He also highlighted the trade account between the two countries, which is currently at about USD 18 billion.
"We are, in fact, I think, South Africa's fourth largest trade partner, if I'm right, and South Africa is our largest trade partner in Africa. And obviously the relationship is something that we continue to work upon," Jaishankar said.
The EAM said he was hopeful of trade and investments in the years to come and also wished that the exchanges between India and South Africa in various spheres continue to multiply. (ANI)