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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Approves South African Arms Trade

PRETORIA, South Africa -- South Africa and the United States opened the door to legal arms trade Friday, ending a conflict that has simmered since the apartheid era ended in 1994.

Deputy President Thabo Mbeki and U.S. Vice President Al Gore announced the normalization of defense trade in a joint statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pretoria.

"The suspension of debarment opens the door for normalized defense trade," the statement said. South African companies would no longer be "subject to a presumption of denial."

U.S. arms experts reviewing export control programs in South African defense firms finished a seven-day inspection Thursday and found they complied with U.S. defense trade regulations on foreign trade, the statement said.

The companies reviewed included the companies Armaments Corporation of South Africa, or Armscor, Denel and its divisions, including Kentron, and a private firm, Fuchs Electronics.

Armscor, Kentron and Fuchs were involved in a massive international arms smuggling operation for the apartheid-era government. Last year, they were fined a total of $12.5 million as part of a plea agreement in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.