(dpa) - South African President Thabo Mbeki on Monday congratulated Raul Castro for his election as Cuban president, pledging support for the island's new leader.
On Sunday, he was named to succeed his brother, Fidel Castro, who led the Caribbean island for nearly 50 years.
In a statement, Mbeki pointed to the history of relations between the countries, praised Fidel Castro for his years as Cuban leader and said he looks forward to strong bilateral relations between the nations.
" Cuba has always occupied a special place in the collective memory of our people for the immense sacrifices made by Cuban internationalist forces in the decolonization process of the continent of Africa," Mbeki said.
"Accordingly, as we forge ahead with the process of fundamental social, political and economic transformation of our country, we know too well that we can indeed count on the unflinching support of the Cuban people," he said, adding South Africa's support for Castro in "the new and difficult task of consolidating the political and economic system in Cuba."