South African Government Statement on the High-Level Meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Mahmoud Abbas

Cape Town - South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, on behalf of the South African government today, Tuesday - 8 February 2005 - welcomed the talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Sharm el-Shaik, Egypt.

The South African Government regards this first high level contact, in more than four years, between Palestinians and Israelis as a first step towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Minister Dlamini Zuma said, "It is our fervent hope that this would spell the beginning of good faith negotiations between Palestine and Israel. We believe that continued negotiations would lead to the effective dissolution of the current stalemate and thereby create a favourable environment for the implementation of the Road Map."

The South African Government reiterates its belief in the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state co-existing peacefully side by side with the Israeli State as the key to resolving the Middle East conflict.

"South Africa stands ready to assist the people of Palestine and Israel, in whatever way it can, in their efforts to find a peaceful resolution to their current challenges" concluded Minister Dlamini Zuma.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

8 February 2005

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