President Thabo Mbeki to Sign Agreement Between South Africa and Sudan, Thursday, 30 December 2004 - Saturday, 1 January 2005

Khartoum - South African President Thabo Mbeki today, Thursday - 30 December 2004 - arrived here where he will lead a high-level government and business delegation on an official visit today until Saturday, 1 January 2005.

President Mbeki's delegation includes Mrs Zanele Mbeki, and Ministers Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Mosiuoa Lekota, Mandisi Mpahlwa and Deputy Minister Lulu Xingwana.

South Africa currently chairs the African Union (AU) Committee on Post-Conflict Reconstruction of the War-Affected Areas in Sudan.

The visit to Sudan will, accordingly, provide an excellent opportunity for President Mbeki and his counterpart President Omar Hassan Ahmed el-Bashir, to discuss:

· The work of the African Union (AU) Committee on Post-Conflict Reconstruction of War Affected Areas in Sudan;
· The Sudanese North-South peace process at Naivasha; and
· The AU-sponsored peace process in Abuja to resolve the conflict situation in Darfur, Western Sudan.

Consequently, the visit to Sudan must be understood within the context of the expected conclusion of the Naivasha Comprehensive Peace Agreement between both the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) scheduled for 31 December 2004.

The signing of the Naivasha Agreement will therefore, herald a new dawn in Sudan's political and economic development.

In this regard, South Africa has already committed itself to provide, together with the University of South Africa (UNISA), training for the SPLM leadership and other cadres to equip them with skills and experience that will enable them to participate equitably in the Transitional National Government of the Sudan.

In addition the two Presidents will also have an opportunity to discuss strategic bilateral political and economic relations between South Africa and Sudan following which a Co-operation Agreement that will lay the basis of the consolidation and expansion of bilateral relations between South Africa and Sudan will be signed.

In this context, the trade balance between the two countries is currently in South Africa's favour with exports to Sudan for 2003 totalling R296 774 000 and R190 000 000 for the first six months of 2004. Imports from Sudan, on the other hand, stand at R2 552 000 for 2003 and R668 000 for the first six months of 2004.

President Mbeki is also poised to address a special sitting of Sudan's National Assembly, receive a briefing from the Sudanese leadership on the respective peace processes for South Sudan and Darfur, and inaugurate the Chancery of the South African Mission in Khartoum.

President Mbeki and his delegation is scheduled to visit El Fashir in Darfur during which he will meet with Governor Alawi and local leaders, the Command of the African Union Ceasefire Commission (AUCFC), the SANDF component of the AUCFC and visit the Abu Shouk Refugee Camp.

President Mbeki will also receive and Honorary Doctorate from the African International University and be bestowed with Sudan's Highest Order, the Insignia of Honour (Gold) by President El Bashir before concluding his visit.

President Mbeki and his delegation will return to South Africa on Saturday, 1 January 2005.
Bilateral Economic Relations

A growing number of South African companies have shown an interest in Sudan, viz:
· Global Railway Engineering Consortium of South Africa, which concluded a US$21 million contract with the Sudanese Railway Corporation for the rehabilitation of railways and rolling stock on 9 December 2004. Funding for the venture has been secured from Rand Merchant Bank;
· SOEKOR; and
· PETROSA, which in May 2004 signed an agreement with the Sudanese state oil company, SUDAPET, for exclusive oil concession rights for Block 14. PETROSA has also concluded a capacity building agreement for the development of technical staff in Sudan.

South African exports to Sudan include base metals, machinery, vehicles, wood pulp, plastics and chemicals. Imports from Sudan include vegetables, animal fats, plastics and machinery.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853
? Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
30 December 2004

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