Deputy Foreign Minister Sue van der Merwe to host Russian Counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, Tshwane, South Africa, Thursday, 8 December 2005

Tshwane - Deputy Foreign Minister Sue van der Merwe will host her Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov for political and economic discussions at the Union Buildings in Tshwane on Thursday, 8 December 2005.

Discussions between Deputy Minister van der Merwe and her Russian counterpart come within the context of South Africa's commitment to consolidate relations with countries of the North in order to expedite the achievement of the developmental agenda of the South in general and Africa in particular.

In this regard, Russia as a member of the G-8 and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council is seen as a strategic partner for South Africa.

Bilateral relations between South Africa and Russia are governed through the Intergovernmental Trade and Economic Committee (ITEC), the fifth session of which took place in Moscow from 4-5 October 2005.

ITEC is the most important mechanism regulating bilateral political, trade and economic relations between Russia and South Africa and consists of the following Joint Sub-Committees:

  • Trade, Investment and Banking;
  • Minerals and Energy;
  • Transport - Aviation and Maritime;
  • Social Sector - Health and Education;
  • Agriculture;
  • Water Affairs and Forestry; and
  • Science and Technology.

Discussions between Deputy Ministers van der Merwe and Saltanov are expected to include:

  • The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries;
  • The implementation of NEPAD;
  • A briefing by Deputy Minister van der Merwe on the recently concluded 4th session of the Pan-African Parliament;
  • South Africa's preparations for its review in terms of the African Peer Review Mechanism;
  • The comprehensive reform of the United Nations; and
  • Russian support for African peacekeeping initiatives. In this regard, 230 Russian servicemen and security men are involved in the UN Peacekeeping operations in Africa including Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Russian government is also involved in the implementation of international programmes of strengthening the African peacekeeping potential, including training of African peacekeepers and post-conflict reconstruction programmes.

In terms of economic assistance, the Russian Federation has continued to offer African states broad preferences in the field of trade and consistently contributed to alleviating Africa's debt burden as part of the initiative for very poor countries with large debts. In 1998-2002, Russia wrote off US$11.2 billion of the debt of African states. The total amount of debt of African states written off by Russia in 2003-2004 was US$107.97 million. Furthermore, Russia assumed an obligation to write off more than US$1 billion of Ethiopian debt to the Paris Club.

Deputy Minister Saltanov will depart from South Africa on Thursday, 8 December 2005.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

7 December 2005

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