Pretoria (South Africa), May 10: Newly appointed South African President Jacob Zuma thanked New Delhi for its support, and said his inauguration ceremony would not complete without India's presence.
Thanking all those who stood with South Africa, Zuma added, "The inauguration would not have been complete without the presence of India," Zuma said.
The ceremony, which took place here on Saturday, May 9, was attended by Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari and other world leaders.
"There was a pull aside with Vice President Hamid Ansari and the new President of South Africa," said Nalin Surie, MEA Secretary (West).
Ansari joined a host of other dignitaries in the ceremony at the top-of-the-hill Union Buildings, the seat of the South African Government.
Besides Ansari, 30 other world leaders, including Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka, Britain's junior Foreign Minister Mark Malloch Brown and Zuma's three predecessors Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe also attended the ceremony.
Zuma was sworn in as South Africa's President after a remarkable political comeback and quickly highlighted the challenges he faces as the continent's biggest economy heads towards recession.
The prospect of Zuma taking the oath of office before heads of state was unthinkable during turbulent times when he was nearly ruined by graft and rape charges, crises that might have buried many politicians.
Promising to help South Africans realise their dreams, Zuma, 67, took a sober view of the country's economy, which may already be in its first recession in 17 years.