Pretoria - South Africa and oil-producing Angola took a step away from decades of friction on Tuesday by signing an energy deal during the first state visit of Angola's long-standing leader to South Africa.
South Africa is looking for new sources of oil to help power its economy and has eyed Angola - Africa's second-biggest oil producer - as a potential new supplier.
On a first visit to South Africa during his three-decade rule, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said he was open to new forms of cooperation.
"Angola is open to new partners that can become investors," Dos Santos said at a joint news conference. "South Africa has shown interest," he added.
As part of the visit, South Africa's PetroSA and Angola's Sonangol signed a memorandum of understanding to step up broad cooperation in the energy field. Officials said the deal's specifics would be worked out later.
The two state energy companies have been in talks on construction of a crude oil refinery in the coastal town of Lobito. Once constructed, the refinery is expected to produce around 200 000 barrels of refined oil a day.
Angola's crude exports peaked near 1.9 million bpd earlier this year but maintenance and production glitches pulled this back to below 1.7 million bpd in the third quarter, according to data collected from trade sources.
By comparison, Nigeria is Africa's top oil power, producing above 2 million barrels per day. Angola, which relies heavily on oil revenue to build its economy, fund its state budget and pay off external debt, has been trying to increase production.
"Our government will do its best to facilitate the issuing of visas with special attention to businessmen who want to do business in Angola," Dos Santos said in response to concerns that red tape was making it harder to do business in Angola.
South Africa's apartheid government sided with those fighting against dos Santos during Angola's civil war and other post-apartheid leaders have quarrelled with him over how to end the fighting, as well as managing other regional trouble spots.
But South African President Jacob Zuma visited Angola last year to help patch up ties between the two nations.
Angola and SA signed five bilateral agreements during Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos's first state visit to South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
"These are the Memoranda of Understanding on Public Works and Infrastructure Development as well as Telecommunications and Information Technologies and also a Declaration of Intent on the Utilisation of Financial Facilities," he said, according to a statement issued by the presidency.
They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding between PetroSA and Angola's national oil company Sonangol, an energy implementation plan, and a protocol on Technical Co-operation on Veterinary Services.