Notes Following the Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Tshwane, South Africa, 2 May 2006

Deputy President's visit to Japan and Indonesia

  • Let me begin by saying the international visits by the President, Deputy President, Minister and Deputy Ministers are not undertaken simply for the purpose of visiting the countries concerned. These visits were initially undertaken in order to consolidate relations with countries of the world, and share our perspectives on transformation, etc.
  • In the last few years, these visits have been undertaken to further consolidate our relations and to increase the impetus for economic co-operation.
  • There are also many "hot" issues on the international agenda at the moment - the situation in Africa, the Middle East, Iran, Iraq - it is necessary to consult with other countries on these issues.
  • It was in this context that the Deputy President's visit to Asia was undertaken. The visit went very well. We concentrated on popularising AsgiSA and JIPSA, while also briefing our hosts on the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policies of the government. This policy is not always well understood.
  • The visit also came on the eve of the anniversary of the Afro-Asia Summit which was attended by major leaders in Asia and Africa.
  • In Japan the Deputy President held the following meetings:
  • The Prime Minister and other senior government ministries
  • President of the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA)
  • Chairperson of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO)
  • Governor of the Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC)
  • Presidents and Vice-Presidents of major Japanese Universities
  • President of the House of Councillors Mrs Oogi who is also a member of the SA-Japan Parliamentary Friendship League.
  • Business executives from Keidanren (Japanese Chamber of Commerce)
  • The reality is that in 2005, Japan was South Africa's third most important trade partner internationally, and for several years has been South Africa's most important trade partner in Asia. The trade balance between South Africa and Japan is in South Africa's favour. However much more can be achieved in the manufacturing sectors, etc.
  • We also discussed the United Nations Security Council reform - and the other changes that need to be effected in the UN system.
  • We discussed developmental challenges facing Africa.
  • The South African delegation received a briefing from the Japanese with regard to UN reform, developments in Asia, etc.
  • We concluded the visit confident that the sound political foundation will give rise to greater economic co-operation.
  • We have agreed to exchange trade delegations.
  • The 7th session of the SA-Japan co-operation Forum, led by myself and my Japanese counterpart will take place within a few weeks. The Deputy President has mandated the South African delegation to this Forum to focus on implementing the objectives of AsgiSA and JIPSA.
  • While in Japan we also fully discussed TICAD, the Japanese developmental programme in Africa, and its synchronisation with NEPAD projects and programmes. We agreed that Japan and South Africa will implement tripartite initiatives with other countries in Africa.

  • The South African delegation proceeded to Indonesia with the same broad objectives with one difference - South Africa and Indonesia are co-sponsors of the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership.
  • Both sides must now look at how the Partnership can be consolidated.
  • Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka held discussions with the President of Indonesia, Vice-President, leading SMME representatives, and captains of industry.
  • The Deputy President also visited the province of Solo.
  • As you are aware, South Africa and Indonesia have very strong and solid historical relations - the first Indonesians came to South Africa in 1654 and Sheikh Yusuf was deported to Cape Town by the Dutch.
  • We have agreed that it is time to consolidate the strong historical ties into strong political and economic relations.
  • However, the trade relations between both countries are very low - perhaps trade from Indonesia to South Africa is routed to another country, but the relations are not what they should be.
  • There is great South African interest in Indonesia's vast mineral resources - in this regard, there is increasing investment by South African companies in the vast mineral reserves of Indonesia, that include nickel, copper, silver, gold. Gencor (Ingwe) is active, with Iscor, Anglo-American, and Plessey also showing interest. Murray & Roberts has an office in Jakarta and is hoping to obtain civil construction contracts in the infrastructure sector. In addition, Thebe Investment has signed an agreement with Indonesian-owned trading company PT. Prima Comexindo.
  • The lack of reliable air and road links between Indonesia and South Africa have been identified as one of the blockades in economic relations. That there is no real banking co-operation is another reason.
  • The way forward has been identified as follows:
  • As co-chairs of the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership, SA will host 500 Afro-Asian officials in August 2006 to identify flagship projects, etc. This will also be used to prepare for the second Afro-Asia Summit to be hosted in South Africa.
  • President Mbeki has invited the Indonesian President to pay a visit to South Africa - we hope that can be finalised.
  • The Indonesian Minister of Trade, together with a large business delegation, will visit South Africa in May 2006.
  • We also agreed that there is much scope for tourism between the two countries to be consolidated.

  • We concluded the visits to Indonesia and Japan with the following perspectives:
  • There is a general understanding by the international community that South Africa has made great strides in the last 12 years;
  • There is a good understanding of South Africa's economic growth;
  • There is a good understanding of South Africa's role in Africa and beyond;
  • The Afro-Asia Strategic Partnership must be consolidated and strengthened with a view to consolidating ties between ASEAN and SADC.

Côte D'Ivoire

  • The 6th Ministerial level meeting of the International Working Group (IWG) was held on 20 April 2006. The IWG is co - chaired by H. E. Mr Rodolphe Adada, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Francophone of Congo and Mr Pierre Schori, Special Representative of the United Nations for Cote d'Ivoire. The Group examined the report of the Mediation Group.
  • The Group was briefed by Prime Minister Banny, the Chairman of the National Programme for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (PNDDR), the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the acting President of the National Commission for Supervision of Identification (CNSI).
  • In view of the progress achieved in the implementation of the roadmap, the Group expressed concern regarding the delays in the implementation of the disarmament process and national identification.
  • In terms of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1633 (2005), the Group recalled the decision taken by the parties at the Yamoussoukro meeting that the disarmament process and national identification should be undertaken simultaneously. It is believed that the parties are in disagreement regarding the above matter. It is believed that President Gbagbo and the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) would like disarmament to precede national identification whilst the New Forces would like national identification to precede disarmament.
  • In terms of the above, the Group urged the government to accelerate the simultaneous implementation of both processes - disarmament and national identification. The Group stressed that the identification of citizens will allow for the establishment of voter lists required for the holding of the October 2006 elections. The Group also stressed the importance of the resumption of dialogue between the Armed Forces of Cote d'Ivoire (FANCI) and the Armed Forces of the New Forces (FAFN) and to start with the disarmament process and disarmament of the militias.
  • Finally the Group welcomed the new High Representative on Elections in Cote d'Ivoire, Mr Gerard Stoedmann. The Group also welcomed the redeployment of the UN troops to the western part of the country.

Burundi

  • All indications are that processes are moving well in Burundi.
  • We were briefed during President Kikwete's visit to South Africa that attempts are being made to bring the FNL to the negotiating table. This has now happened.
  • The mandate of South African troops to remain in Burundi has been approved by Cabinet.
  • South Africa as the facilitator of the process is consulting all parties to consider the way forward.

Democratic Republic of Congo

  • As you know, elections have been postponed to July - not for any break in the processes - but due to the massive logistical arrangements that have to be undertaken and finalised.
  • South Africa is in consultation with the United Nations and other roleplayers to see how matters can be fastracked.

Questions and Answers

Question
Deputy Minister Pahad, could you kindly update us on the South African position with regard to Iran. Clearly matters are coming to a head. The US Secretary of State is quoted as saying she will ask the United Nations Security Council to impose Chapter 7 sanctions on Iran. How will South Africa respond to this?

Answer
Let me reiterate the South African position - we are opposed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We believe that all countries who are in possession of these weapons should disarm through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty processes. We strongly support a nuclear free world.

We accept Iran's right to have nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We urge the Iranian government to finalise its negotiations with the IAEA. There are only two outstanding issues to be resolved.

We continue to interact with all roleplayers in this crisis in order to build confidence and trust.

The latest report by the Secretary-General of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei is not all negative - we continue to call on the Iranians to support the IAEA processes. We do not believe that all avenues within the IAEA have been exhausted.

It is important to note that the entire region is very volatile and any actions that can increase tensions will lead to a very dangerous situation threatening world peace and security.

The report by the Secretary-General will go to the Security Council - some members are asking for sanctions; some are adamant that no sanctions should be imposed. The Chapter 7 sanctions being proposed by the US Secretary of State are financial sanctions. We are awaiting more details on the proposed sanctions measures being considered.

We believe that any action taken in this situation should not further inflame the volatility.

Chapter 7 sanctions are mandatory and South Africa will have to enforce these.

However we reiterate that all IAEA processes should be exhausted before the Security Council takes any decision on sanctions.

Question
Deputy Minister, can you comment on the call by the Iranian President that Israel be destroyed.

Answer
Let me begin with the South African position on this matter: Iran did not say that Israel will be attacked. However, Iran has long maintained that Israel should not exist.
As the South African government, we believe that, as determined by the Arab League positions, the Olso Agreement and UN resolutions, the existence of a State of Israel is a reality.

We reiterate our position that peace and security in the region will only be possible if the States of Israel and Palestine live side-by-side within secure borders.

The volatility in the entire region - Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan - paint a very bleak picture. We must avoid all actions that will further aggravate the situation.

Question
Deputy Minister Pahad, is there any indication when President Mbeki will visit the region?

Answer
We will continue to consult on this matter - as you know, the Israeli government will be formed on Thursday. We are keen that this visit should be undertaken if it will contribute to peace- and confidence-building measures in the region.

Question
Deputy Minister Pahad, there have been some reports that we are involved with negotiations between the Government of Sudan and rebels in Darfur?

Answer
I do not believe that we are independently involved in this matter - our involvement comes through AU structures.

Question
Deputy Minister Pahad, could you please elaborate why the Iranian issue should be deferred to the IAEA?

Answer
The IAEA is the body mandated to deal with matters of nuclear non-proliferation. If it is removed from the ambit of the IAEA without all options being thoroughly explored, the matter becomes very messy and the ability of the international community to speak with one voice is dissipated. It is in the interests of all parties and the region that a diplomatic solution be found.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Tshwane
0001

2 May 2006

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