International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim I Ebrahim held a successful 9th SA–Cuba Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) Meeting with the Republic of Cuba’s 1st Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Marcelino Medina Gonzalez, on 29 August 2011 in Havana

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim I Ebrahim, co-chaired a successful 9th SA–Cuba Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) Meeting today, 29 August 2011, with his counterpart, Mr Marcelino Medina Gonzalez, the First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba in Havana. The objectives of these official talks include the consolidation of the political bilateral and multilateral relations and to further increase cooperation between the two countries.

The JCM with Cuba convenes annually and it is co-chaired by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa and the Cuban First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. The forum was established in 2001 to strengthen the existing political bilateral relations and to further increase cooperation, particularly in the multilateral and regional spheres.

Deputy Minister Ebrahim remarked: “Through this bilateral mechanism, our two countries continue to pursue possibilities for joint collaboration in areas of mutual benefit. The many projects and programmes reflect this collaboration. More importantly, South Africa appreciates the close relationship with Cuba, which goes beyond government-to-government relations, and which is seen in the close fraternal relationship at a people-to-people level and party level. This close and trusted relationship enables South Africa to learn closely from the successes of the Revolution in as far as delivery of social benefits to our citizens.”

The Deputy Minister expressed gratitude for the successful State Visit to Cuba by President Jacob Zuma in December 2010 that further enhanced the relations between the two countries and this JCM was created to operationalise decisions of the two Presidents.

Deputy Minister Ebrahim thanked the Cuban minister and his delegation for their commitment to engagement on important issues of global concern and for their tireless efforts to work towards a just and equitable world order.

He also expressed South Africa’s appreciation for Cuba’s support in assisting the government to deliver basic and essential services to the people of South Africa, through the joint programmes in health, labour, social development, housing and public infrastructure. “The deployment of architects, engineers, doctors and technical experts throughout the country rendering service to South African citizens bears testimony to Cuba’s commitment,” opined Deputy Minister Ebrahim.

The Deputy Minister acknowledged the significant importance of the training of young South African people as medical professionals through Cuba’s generous offer of 80 scholarships every year. Through this programme, more than 500 young South Africans, from impoverished communities, have been given the opportunity to pursue a career in primary healthcare and provide a service to their communities.

“The generosity of Cuba in this regard goes beyond South Africa, to Africa, with more than 2299 students from 48 African countries been recipients of the medical scholarship offered to poorer developing countries,” said the deputy minister. “This commitment is evidenced through the presence of Cuban medical brigades in Africa, in 28 countries, with more than 1831 doctors and other personnel.  Our collaboration in this area has borne fruit through the trilateral cooperation partnerships in Rwanda and Mali. Both countries remain committed to continued support for the African Agenda to ensure that Africa remains a priority in the search for growth and development.”

Possibilities for further similar projects are being explored. For example, Cuba has proposed that South Africa join a trilateral partnership with Norway and Cuba in the field of Public Health to assist Haiti.

South Africa will continue to lobby for the lifting of the Economic, Trade and Financial Embargo against Cuba.

A Technical Committee, led by DTI, has been set up to work with the Cuban authorities on the modalities of the US$14million aid package as announced by President Zuma.  The Committee visited Cuba in May 2011 and again from 22 to 25 August 2011.

Besides paying a courtesy visit to His Excellency Bruno Rodriguez Parilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, Deputy Minister Ebrahim also held meetings with Her Excellency Marcia Cobas Ruiz, Deputy Minister of Public Health; and His Excellency Oscar Martinez Cordoves, Deputy Chief of the International Relations Department.

Deputy Minister Ebrahim placed a floral tribute at the bust of Oliver Tambo, the late president of the African National Congress (ANC), at the African National Heroes Memorial Park in Havana.

Tomorrow, 30 August 2011, the Deputy Minister will conclude his trip to Cuba by meeting with His Excellency Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Abelardo Moreno Femandez, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Rogello Sierra Diaz, Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs; and His Excellency Orlando Hernandez Guillen, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment.

He and his delegation, constituent of senior officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), are expected back in the country on Wednesday, 1 September 2011.

For further information please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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29 August, 2011

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