Madame Deputy Prime Minister;
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs;
Members of the Swedish and South African Delegations;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

I would like to welcome you all to this, the 2nd South African-Swedish Binational Commission.

Madame Deputy Prime Minister, it is indeed a great privilege to preside jointly with you over the deliberations of this important bilateral mechanism between our two countries.

South Africa and Sweden share a long and rich history. The bonds between our peoples were strengthened during the difficult years of the struggle against apartheid. You stood firmly with us in our time of need.

It is this common history and commitment to the building of a just world order, which has given birth to this Bi-National Commission.

Deputy Prime Minister, let me begin by applauding the committees for the constructive spirit of co-operation, which has characterised the preparations for this second meeting.

The three committees - economic affairs, political affairs and social and development co-operation - are indeed adding value to the efforts of further deepening our relations.

We also appreciate Sweden's active development co-operation support to South Africa, since 1994, which has amounted to approximately one billion rand. This illustrates Sweden's commitment and constructive support for the development needs of South Africans.

The number of joint scientific projects between our two countries is also increasing, and we are particularly encouraged by the good progress that has been made in the exchange of expertise and transfer of technology.

In addition, given the rich and varied cultural heritage of our two countries, it is also important that we continue to exchange knowledge and experience in the field of arts and education.

We believe there is much scope for more investment by Swedish companies. Most of the sectors we have identified for investment and export promotion match those in which Swedish industry has shown strengths.

We also invite you to prioritise investment in our small and medium sized enterprise sectors, specifically those sectors that have the greatest potential for much-needed job creation.

Madam Deputy Prime Minister, we welcome the fact that Sweden has ratified the Agreement between South Africa and the European Union on Trade and Development Co-operation.

We view the Agreement as an important instrument for furthering trade and investment links between our two countries.

The ratification also creates the right environment and gives a positive signal to the private sector in our two countries, and it should encourage our business sectors to intensify linkages.

We also believe that it is important for us to maintain dialogue on multilateral trade issues, in particular on the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Consultation around the forthcoming conference in Qatar in November is important.

We are also encouraged by the Swedish support for the African recovery programme, the New African Initiative, on which you will receive a presentation this morning. This programme is crucial for Africa's development. Ladies and gentlemen, South Africa and Sweden share similar visions of what type of world we would like future generations to grow up in. It is this fundamental outlook that forms the cornerstone of our relations.

I am saying this as we are meeting at a time when the whole world is still shaken by the horrific attacks on the financial and defence nerve-centres of the United States of America on September 11.

Let me reiterate that we unequivocally condemn the attacks, and that we recognise the right of the United States administration to find those responsible for those acts of terror and to ensure that they face justice.

We have also welcomed the assurances that care will be taken in the military offensive to avoid indiscriminate force against ordinary people of Afghanistan, as well as the avoidance of the destruction of their economic and social infrastructure.

Let me also reiterate our position that to defeat terrorism we must deal with the root causes, such as conflicts especially in the Middle East, poverty and underdevelopment.

In that vein, we hope that the fight against terrorism will not lead to a diversion of resources away from the developing world, where they are needed for programmes that will ensure lasting peace and stability.

Your Excellency, once again, welcome to our country. We expect a fruitful engagement over the next two days.

We value this co-operation with you, as it will assist us to be able to realise our goals of ensuring a better life for all our people.

It will also contribute to the strengthening of our democracy, and ensure stability and growth.

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the Presidency

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