Reply by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, to the Toast Remarks by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, on the Occasion of the State Banquet, Palais Du Peuple, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, 30 November 2005.

Your Excellency, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and Madame Antoinette Sassou-Nguesso,
Your Excellencies Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen:

My wife, my entire delegation and I are delighted to have been invited by you to visit this beautiful country of the Republic of Congo. We thank you for your warm hospitality and the cordial manner in which we have been received by the people of this country.

I am very pleased to convey the warmest greetings of the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa to Your Excellency, the Government and wonderful people of the Republic of Congo.

This is a very historic visit as it is the first time that we pay a State visit to the Republic of Congo. However, the relations between our two countries go back a long way to the days of South Africa's struggle against apartheid.

We are therefore here, also to thank you, Your Excellency, and the people of the Republic of Congo, for your steadfast and unwavering solidarity with the masses of the people of South Africa, which enabled us to gain our freedom from apartheid.

Clearly, your continued support and solidarity with your brothers and sisters in South Africa enriches our efforts to accelerate the process of building a truly democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society.

Equally, we would like to assure you of the full support of the people of South Africa as you engage in a continued struggle against poverty and underdevelopment and your efforts to reconstruct and develop this beautiful country.

We are encouraged by the positive developments that have taken place in this country to move away from the destructive fury of the civil war and conflict towards reconstruction, development and national reconciliation. We stand ready to do whatever is necessary, within our limited capacity, to ensure that we further help to consolidate this movement forward.

Your Excellency, we were indeed very happy to receive the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Congo, Rodolphe Adada, to South Africa in October 2001 because this was an important process of formalising our relations.

As you are aware, this was followed by an official visit by South Africa's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, to the Republic of Congo in November 2003. On this occasion, a General Cooperation Agreement was signed between our two Ministers of Foreign Affairs. This agreement created a legal framework for further cooperation and also provides the basis for the establishment of a Joint Cooperation Commission between our two countries.

It is our pleasure that during this visit we will sign important agreements that would further strengthen our relations. These are:

  • Protocol on Regular Diplomatic Consultations;
  • Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments;
  • General Agreement on Health Cooperation; and
  • Letter of Intent on Cultural Cooperation.

Your Excellency, we would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to work with you, your Government and people to confront the common challenges of poverty and underdevelopment in a partnership predicated on mutually-beneficial cooperation.

We believe there are many areas in which we must cooperate. These include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, energy, telecommunications, infrastructure development, education, health, science and technology and arts and culture.

We hope that this partnership will demonstrate what we, as Africans, can achieve to provide a better life for our peoples, relying on our own intellectual and material resources, in keeping with the vision contained in the Constitutive Act of the African Union and Nepad.

Your Excellency, I would like to use this opportunity to commend you for the role you and your Government and the people of the Republic of Congo are playing to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region, particularly, in Sao Tomé and Principé, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Clearly this region, like the rest of our continent, needs peace and security. We need reconstruction and development. And we need partnerships, as Africans, to ensure that the programme of the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), succeeds.
We need to do everything possible to realise the common dream of turning the 21st into an African century.

In this regard, I would like to assure you, Your Excellency, that South Africa is ready and willing to work together with the Republic of Congo and other sister countries on our continent.

Once more I wish to thank you very much for your hospitality.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and Madame Antoinette Sassou-Nguesso, to the prosperity of the citizens of this country and to the eternal bond of friendship between the people of the Republic of Congo and South Africa. To good friendship!

Thank you


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