DEPUTY International Relations and Co-operation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim yesterday dismissed suggestions that comments attributed to Minister Maite Nkoana- Mashabane would strain relations between Zimbabwe and SA.

Leaked diplomatic notes posted on WikiLeaks this week quoted Ms Nkoana-Mashabane as calling Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe "a crazy old man" .

If true, the comments are likely to harden Mr Mugabe's attitude towards accepting SA's advice on change in his country.

"A lot of things are said about leaders all the time . some are said seriously, others lightheartedly. It's not something that we should worry about," Mr Ebrahim said.

He said he had not yet discussed the WikiLeak documents with Ms Nkoana-Mashabane, who is abroad.

Mr Ebrahim was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria following a meeting with British Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham, who is on a three-day official visit to SA.

Mr Bellingham said the UK would continue to put pressure on Mr Mugabe to institute democratic reforms. He said the UK was "keen to see credible, free and fair elections" happening in Zimbabwe.

Mr Bellingham is expected to meet Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies today .

The UK committed to doubling its trade with SA by 2015 during President Jacob Zuma's official visit to the country in March.

Mr Davies is also likely to raise the issue of the economic partnership agreement between SA and the UK , which has yet to be resolved.

langenil@bdfm.co.za