Notes Following Briefing by Minister Dlamini Zuma and Dutch Foreign Minister Dr Bernard Bot on Conclusion of Bilateral Discussions, Tshwane, South Africa, Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Comments by Minister Dlamini Zuma

· We are very pleased to have hosted my Dutch counterpart in South Africa.
· I believe he has had a very fruitful two-day visit to South Africa with discussions with Ministers Manuel and Lekota and President Mbeki.
· We have discussed a range of issues - politically, there is no problem in the relations between both countries. We also have very extensive co-operation programmes between both countries in a range of areas - health, co-operation, peacekeeping and some trilateral programmes.
· There is synergy in our relations in the international arena.
· We also discussed the problems and the achievements in Africa; developments in the European Union and the reform of the United Nations.
· Minister Bot will also, later today, open the new Netherlands Chancery - this is a good sign as it signals that the Netherlands is here to stay.

Comments by Minister Bot

· I am very pleased to be in South Africa and to have had an opportunity to hold discussions with the Ministers of Finance and Defence, President Thabo Mbeki earlier today and now with Minister Dlamini Zuma.
· There is no greater demonstration of the close friendship between both countries than the signing of the Declaration Of Intent Between The Government Of The Republic Of South Africa And The Government Of The Kingdom Of The Netherlands On A Framework For Co-Operation And A Bilateral Commission.
· It has become very important to create a strategic framework for the consolidation of our relations - politically, socially and economically.
· It is also important to institutionalise our relations through biannual consultations at Ministerial and officials level.
· We have, in the last two days, had wide-ranging discussions. There is barely a topic not discussed. I refer particularly to the situation in Africa - the forthcoming elections in the DRC, Burundi, Sudan and the situation in Darfur.
· We also looked at the outcomes of the United Nations Summit - I believe the outcome was promising but there is much work to be done. However, South Africa and the Netherlands hold common positions on many areas and together with the EU, we believe we can make progress in many respects.
· We also looked at the situation in the European Union.
· We believe that future co-operation between the EU and AU can lead to further progress in peacebuilding initiatives.
· Discussions of the last two days have been characterised by frank, transparent dialogue that I believe is critical to the elevation of our relations.

Questions and answers

Question Min Bot, what is your position on Africans literally dying to cross over in Europe?

Answer (Minister Bot) We have watched these developments and believe we must prevent these scenes from happening. We are very aware of the problems we are facing in this regard.

In the Netherlands we observe all conventions associated with refugees and take very good care of them.

However, Europe has a limited capacity and the whole of Africa cannot be absorbed into Europe.

(Minister Dlamini Zuma) This is precisely why Africa's development should become a priority of Europe. At the United Nations conference in 2000, we all agreed that the biggest challenge of the 21st century would be Africa's underdevelopment.

Africa's development will also result in Africans wanting to remain in Africa.

Africa's development has become a global responsibility - not that we as Africa are abdicating responsibility but since we belong to a global village, Africa's development should be the priority of all who belong to the global village.

Question Ministers, did you at all discuss the killing of the three Nigerian peacekeepers and Darfur? And the campaign that AU Commission Chair Alpha Konare is heading, that of increased military capacity in Sudan?

Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma) We did discuss the killings and kidnappings of peacekeepers - off course this is of great concern to us. We also expressed support for AU initiatives in Sudan - not just increased military capacity but political initiatives currently underway. As you know, the Netherlands is one of the keen supporters of processes in Sudan.

(Minister Bot) I can only reiterate what Minister Dlamini Zuma has said. We looked at the matter of AU initiatives currently underway. But we also looked at post-conflict reconstruction and development in Sudan. As you know, one of my countryman, Jan Pronk is the UN's special envoy to Sudan. We also discuss directly with the Sudanese authorities the situation in Sudan. The resolution of political matters will lead to greater movement in post-conflict reconstruction and development.

Question Minister Bot, could you kindly elaborate on the political relations between both countries?

Answer We signed the Convention For The Avoidance Of Double Taxation And The Prevention Of Fiscal Evasion With Respect To Taxes On Income And On Capital Between The Republic Of South Africa And The Kingdom Of The Netherlands with Minister Manuel yesterday. The signing of this agreement indicates the elevation of our bilateral relations.

I also had discussions with leading Dutch businessmen in South Africa. There seems to be many unexplored opportunities between both countries. There is certainly greater scope for the consolidation of our bilateral economic relations.

It is a sign of political growth and maturity if economic relations between two countries can be increased.

The signing of the Declaration of Intent between both countries will also go a long way towards consolidating our relations.

We did not discuss trade figures in detail - this was not the purpose of the meeting - we mainly discussed opportunities through which to stimulate bilateral economic relations.

Question Minister Bot, you mentioned biannual meetings between both countries - at which level will these be? And was the possibility of a State Visit discussed?

Answer The signing of the Declaration of Intent indicates a Strategic Partnership between both countries. In the consolidation of this partnership, interaction between both countries will occur at Ministerial and officials levels. The most important thing is to solidify our relations.

And no, we did not discuss the possibility of a State Visit - we did however host President Mbeki and Minister Dlamini Zuma on a short visit to the Netherlands last year.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

11 October 2005

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