Joint Communiqué between the Minster of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and the Deputy Minster of Foreign Affairs, Co-operation and Francophony of the Republic of Gabon, Mr Jean-Francois Ndongou 22 March 2005 Pretoria South Africa

Following the visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, to Gabon in November 2003, senior officials of the two countries met in Pretoria, South Africa, on 28 and 29 October 2004. Various areas of possible co-operation were discussed on this occasion. At the end of the meeting, four agreements were initialed.

At the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Deputy Minister to the Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Co-operation and Francophony of the Republic of Gabon, His Excellency Mr Jean-Francois Ndongou, visited South Africa on 21 and 22 March 2005. The purpose of the visit was to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries and to sign the Agreements initialed in 2004.

The two Ministers of Foreign Affairs expressed their satisfaction with the co-operation that exists between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Gabon, and agreed on the need to increase the volume of trade and investment between the two countries.

In this regard, they strongly expressed their wish that the signing of the Trade Agreement and the Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Income Tax will lead to increased trade between the two countries.

The Ministers also used the opportunity to exchange views on a wide range of developments on the African continent.

Both Ministers expressed their satisfaction with progress regarding the operationalisation of the African Union (AU) and its various institutions. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as the continent's programme for socio-economic development.

They further agreed to share experiences and information on institutions developed in their respective countries for the implementation of NEPAD. Minister Dlamini Zuma welcomed the accession of Gabon to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and wished the country well.
Minister Jean-François Ndongou conveyed the support of His Excellency President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, President of the Republic of Gabon, for the mediation efforts by His Excellency President T M Mbeki and expressed the hope that a speedy resolution will be found to the crisis in Cote D'Ivoire.

Minister Dlamini Zuma, on behalf of His Excellency President T M Mbeki, congratulated his Gabonese brother and friend, His Excellency President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, for his steadfast efforts to resolve the situation in the Central African Republic, which recently resulted in successful presidential elections.

The two Ministers welcomed the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (PCA) between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), and expressed the hope that a speedy resolution will be found to the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.
In reviewing the situation in the Great Lakes Region, both Ministers welcomed the successful conclusion of the referendum in Burundi and observed that the historic elections scheduled to take place in June 2005 will be a watershed in the history of this brotherly country. In the same breath, both Ministers reaffirmed their support for the ongoing transitional process in the DRC.
The Ministers also received reports from senior officials in various fields.

The two Ministers concluded their discussions by adopting the recommendations made in the meeting between senior officials. The Ministers then signed the following agreements:
· Protocol for Regular Diplomatic Consultations
· Trade Agreement
· Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income

Minister Dlamini Zuma thanked the Gabonese Minister for visiting South Africa and wished him a safe journey to Gabon.

Minister Ndongou reiterated his gratitude to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for the latter's hospitality and the spirit of co-operation that prevailed during the discussions.

Done in Pretoria on this 22nd day of March 2005

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa