Statement by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the Joint Press Conference with the Honourable Minister Julie Bishop, MP Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Pretoria, 11 September 2014

I warmly welcome Her Excellency, Minister Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister of Australia and her delegation to South Africa.

South Africa attaches great importance to its relationship with Australia, which has over the past two decades become South Africa’s biggest trading partner and most popular tourist destination in Oceania. During our meeting today, Minister Bishop and I focused on the three main areas that form the pillars of our relationship: bilateral, regional and global issues.

Regarding our bilateral relations, we both expressed our satisfaction at the current status of bilateral projects. South Africa is Australia’s largest economic partner in Africa. Despite this, we felt that more could and should be done to increase trade between our two countries, given the many opportunities that exist.

The economies our two countries are characterised by mining and agriculture, amongst other fields. And we discussed how we can share knowledge and experience in these fields for the mutual benefit our peoples. We also discussed cooperation in skills development and skills exchange.

We talked about the exciting Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project which was jointly awarded to our countries and the tremendous impact it has, not only in the field of science, but also in terms of the upliftment of local communities in the areas around the project.

With regard to regional issues, we focused on SADC and the outcomes of the SADC Summit. We discussed some of the major “hotspots” in Africa and what we thought would be the best way forward in providing guidance on how to solve some of these conflicts. In addition, Minister Bishop gave me an excellent briefing on developments in the Oceania and Pacific region, focusing on the forthcoming post-coup elections in Fiji.

Australia is chairing the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) now and we have discussed the many opportunities, as well as our shared visions for the future regarding this organisation.

As you know, Australia is also currently holding the Presidency of the G20 and President Zuma will, in November this year, attend the G20 Summit in Brisbane. We, therefore, discussed our priorities and what each of us wants to achieve in this regard.

We discussed the crisis in the Middle East, as well as the situation in Ukraine. We both want a peaceful outcome in these two important areas of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I now invite Minister Bishop to address the media.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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