Banquet Remarks of the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, in Honour of the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmed El Bashir: Tuynhuys, Cape Town, November 6, 2007.

Your Excellency, President Omar Hassan Ahmed El Bashir,
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Your Excellency, we are truly delighted that you found time to visit our
country, accompanied by your wife, Mme Widad Babkir, and an important
delegation. On behalf of the government and people of South Africa I
would like to extend the warmest welcome to you and your delegation.

I also wish, through you, Your Excellency, to convey our greetings to
the government and people of Sudan.

We are very happy to be with in South Africa because among other things,
your visit has enabled us to strengthen our bilateral relations,
especially the Joint Bilateral Commission, which as Your Excellency
knows, we launched in May 2006.

We will further consolidate our bilateral relations by signing a number
of agreements tomorrow, these being:

  • The Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Economic Co-operation;
  • Agreement for the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of
    Investments;
  • Agreement on Co-operation in the Fields of Arts and Culture;
  • Statement of Intent on Social Development;
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Co-operation;
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation on Immigration,
    Population and Election Matters; and
  • Bilateral Trade Co-operation Agreement.

These agreements, Your Excellency, demonstrate that our partnership is
indeed growing stronger and most importantly, embraces people to people
relations.

As you are aware, Your Excellency, South Africa continues to give such
assistance as it can so that the sister people of the Republic of Sudan
achieve the progress which all your people desire.

Among other things, we continue with the implementation of the Capacity
and Institution Building Project which involves the Government of
Southern Sudan, our Department of Foreign Affairs and other structures
of our government, and the University of South Africa. To date, fourteen
training programmes have been implemented and over 700 individuals have
been trained in various elements of state administration.

In this regard, we are indeed very pleased that an agreement has been
reached to conclude all the matters that led the SPLM to suspend the
participation of its members in the central government of Sudan. I would
like to assure you, Mr President, of our full support for this decision,
as well as our readiness to do everything necessary and possible to
assist in this regard.

I would like to take advantage of this happy occasion once more to
confirm that we consider Sudan as a vitally important African country
that has the potential to occupy the front ranks in the continuing
struggle to achieve the African Renaissance, which includes the unity of
our Continent.

We are very honoured that we can count on Sudan as a strategic partner.
We are therefore determined to work with you, Mr President, further to
strengthen our bilateral relations, within the context of a focused
programme of cooperation covering many areas.

We will also strengthen our cooperation and consultation with regard to
multilateral issues, such as the development, the renewal and the unity
of our Continent, Palestine and the Middle East, the conclusion of the
Doha Development Round, the reform of the UN, and so on.

Your Excellency, we are, like you and the rest of our Continent, deeply
interested in the speedy resolution of the conflict in Darfur. We agree
fully with the Government of Sudan that:

  • The Abuja Peace Agreement provides the framework for the
    peaceful resolution of the conflict in Darfur;
  • All the armed factions in Darfur should participate in the AU-UN
    peace talks hosted by Brother Leader Moumar Khadafi and the Libyan
    Jamahiriya;
  • The international community should take firm action against
    anybody who wilfully absent themselves from these negotiations, choosing
    to engage in violent actions against the innocent people of Darfur;
  • The AU-UN hybrid force should be deployed without further delay,
    and all outstanding issues in this regard should be solved as a matter
    of urgency on the basis of existing United Nations decisions and by
    agreement between the AU, the UN and the Government of Sudan; and,
  • All necessary steps should be taken to ensure the security of
    the civilian population and the internally displaced people in Darfur,
    as well as create the conditions for humanitarian assistance to reach
    the sections of the population in need.

I would like to assure Your Excellency that we remain seized of the
question of further strengthening our contribution to the peace forces
deployed in Darfur, to add to the military and police contingents we
have sent to Darfur as part of AMIS, in keeping with the needs of the
AU-UN hybrid force, bearing in mind the fact of our deployments in the
DRC and Burundi.

We thank you and your government, Your Excellency, for your partnership
in one of NEPAD's important projects, the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable
System (EASSy), the
9 900km-long submarine cable between Durban and Port Sudan, which will
radically reduce telecommunications costs in Africa. We trust that this
cable will indeed become operational by the end of 2008.

Indeed, Your Excellency, despite the many challenges that we face as
individual countries, we have the duty to ensure that the African Union
and its programmes succeed. At the same time, we are confident that our
efforts will, in time, bring development and prosperity to our people.

Once more, Your Excellency, I am pleased to extend to you, your wife,
Madame Widad Babkir, and the rest of your important delegation, a warm
welcome to our country and our thanks that you have honoured us with
your visit.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise and join me in a
toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency, President
Omer Hassan Ahmed el-Bashir and to peace, solidarity and friendship
between the peoples of the Republics of Sudan and South Africa.

To friendship!

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