Toast Remarks by the President of South Africa, T Mbeki, at the Official Banquet in Honour of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria: Presidential Guest House, Pretoria, 5 October 2004

Your Excellency, President Bouteflika,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am very pleased to welcome you, Your Excellency and your delegation, to South Africa on the occasion of the important 4th session of the Binational Commission. The Government and people of South Africa are very happy to host you and your delegation and wish that you have a fulfilling stay in our country.

South Africa is proud to have such a strong and consistent strategic partner in our joint efforts to develop our countries and to do whatever we can to ensure that our continent and other poor regions of the world pull themselves out of the mire of poverty and underdevelopment.

Your Excellency, it was during your tenure as chairperson of the OAU that our continent began the process of the transition towards the African Union (AU) and the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa,Äôs Development (NEPAD). Not only is Algeria the founder member of this AU programme, NEPAD, but your country and you as one of our Deputy Chairpersons, continue to play a central role in the affairs of this programme.

Together our countries have used the Bi-National Commission to consolidate and expand our co-operation at various levels of government, business, academic institutions and many other formations of civil society. Since we formed this Commission we have entered into 24 Co-operation Agreements and additional agreements are in the process of negotiation.

The challenge facing us is to ensure that the agreements that we sign help both the peoples of Algeria and South Africa to develop further towards a better and prosperous future. We are aware that advances made within the Technical Working Groups are varied, because some of these Groups have performed better while others have lagged behind. Clearly, we must take the necessary measures to ensure that our Commission produces the results expected by our peoples.

Indeed, we are happy that our economic relations have improved and we now have the possibility further to strengthen our relations in critical areas like engineering, telecommunications, information technology, pharmaceuticals, construction, finance, manufacturing, education, culture and other sectors.

Your Excellency, it is not surprising that you play such a critical role in the affairs of our continent. Indeed, our country is indebted to your principled leadership in the United Nations when, as Algerian Foreign Minister, you presided over important decisions to isolate apartheid South Africa.

The important work that you did at the United Nations still inspires all of us as we work for the reform of that important organisation of the nations of the world.

Undoubtedly, together we have an abiding duty to ensure that the changes that are effected at the United Nations and other multilateral institutions address the global challenge of inequality between all nations and regions. We should continue to work together so that these institutions are transformed in such a way that they are better able to defeat the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment and assist our nations to tackle terrorism.

I am confident that through our Binational Commission, Algeria and South Africa will be able to respond sufficiently to the many and varied challenges in our two countries, on our continent and in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Please rise and join me and drink to the good health of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, as well as to solidarity and friendship between the sister peoples of Algeria and South Africa

I thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency
5 October 2004

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