Address a a dinner in honour of the Vice President of Sudan, 17 February 2003

Programme Director,
Your Excellency, the Vice President of the Republic of Sudan and your esteemed delegation,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me extend a warm word of welcome to you Mr Vice President and your delegation.

It is always a great pleasure to receive members of the great African family in this Southern tip of the continent.

I am indeed delighted that our two countries are moving closer together and are strengthening relations at a bilateral level. We can only gain from deepening these relations, for the mutual benefit of our two countries and peoples.

I am pleased that you will be interacting with our business community tomorrow, as business to business linkages within the continent is critical, to enable Africa to do business internally as well, and not only rely on external trade linkages.

Mr Vice President, it is of particular importance that we, as Africans, interact more regularly with one another, given the challenges we face. We can only achieve our noble objectives of rebuilding this continent if we work together. I am therefore pleased that we had that opportunity earlier today.

Given the harsh realities that Africa faces, we need to unite and implement joint renewal and development strategies. We fortunately have a strong vehicle for this in the African Union's development blueprint, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, (NEPAD).

Your Excellency, Mr Vice President, I would like to emphasise that the South African people and South Africa as the current Chair of the African Union, support the people of the Republic of Sudan in their quest for lasting peace.

The road to peace and reconstruction, and ultimately development, is not an easy one, but it certainly is a worthwhile one. It requires inspired and visionary leadership from all of us. South Africa stands ready to assist wherever she can, in the pursuit of peace and stability in the Sudan.

Having walked this road before, we South Africans know that peace is an attainable goal. We are driven by this knowledge in our mission to work tirelessly to rid the continent of conflict, in whatever way we can. We believe that peace; stability and development will make this continent take its rightful place among other continents, as the cradle of humankind, and a bastion of progress. You therefore have our full support, and we wish the Sudanese people well in the next round of negotiations.

Mr Vice President, as we speak, a serious and worrying international security situation is unfolding, in the form of the United States-led campaign against Iraq.

Our position, which is similar to that of the Non-Aligned Movement and the majority of the developing world, is that we want to avoid a war against Iraq as this would be disastrous for the world in general, and for Africa in particular.

We call for a peaceful solution on the basis of the United Nations resolutions. Africa has managed to push the continent's reconstruction and development to the top of the global agenda, and we believe that a war would take us backwards, and push development to the backburner.

Mr Vice President, you would be aware of our involvement in the Burundi peace process. I will, this weekend travel to Tanzania at the invitation of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who chairs the Great Lakes Regional Initiative on Burundi, to once again play a role to assist our brothers and sisters in Burundi to move further towards lasting peace.

We believe we have made a lot of progress already and need to urgently finalise a ceasefire implementation plan between President Pierre Buyoya who leads the Transitional Government and the co-signatories, the CNDD-FDD led by Pierre Nkurunziza.

Mr Vice President, once again, thank you for coming to these shores. We wish you and the Sudanese people courage and wisdom, as you continue on the path towards peace and stability in your country.

We also wish you and your delegation a pleasant stay for the duration of your visit.

I Thank You

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