Notes Following Joint Press Conference between Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Omar El-Bashir Tuynhuys, Cape Town Wednesday 7 November 2007
Remarks by President Thabo Mbeki
President El-Bashir let me say welcome to you and your delegation. We are indeed very happy that you could come to visit us in South Africa and what has just happened now, the signing of these various agreements indicates the work we have been doing to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries and I think President this is one of the outstanding results of your visit that has contributed further to the strengthening of our relations. This is important.
As we have said in the past President, it is our view that Sudan is a critically important country in itself and in terms of what needs to happen in our continent. We are very privileged indeed that we have the relations we have and this possibility to work together.
We will President focus on all of the matters that have been identified, ascertain the way forward in terms of economic development in both our countries. The Agreements we have just signed in terms of the Protection of Investments, matters of tax, and so on, indeed aim to facilitate the strengthening of these bilateral economic relations.
As well relations in other areas we have indicated. I would like to say again President we recognise fully the challenge that Sudan faces with regard to the development of the South – of Southern Sudan – and we are very pleased with the co-operation that is taking place between ourselves and the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) focusing on the training of civil servants from Southern Sudan and already over 700 have completed these courses, including those who have been trained for policing.
We will continue to intensify that programme President because we all understand that we have to do as much as possible to assist with the development of Southern Sudan.
We will follow up President on the matter that came up in our discussions on the pledges that were made in Oslo by the rest of the world that amounted to over US$ 4 billion to help the Southern Sudan address the many challenges they face. We will indeed follow up with the people who made those pledges because it is very disappointing indeed when one considers what has actually been received by Southern Sudan following the pledges made. It is really a serious challenge that must be addressed.
I must say also President that we thank you for the briefing received from yourself about the progress that has been made in terms of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed at the beginning of 2005.
We are very pleased indeed that you brought us good news that the government of Sudan and the Government of the South has agreed on a programme of action for the next three months which would help to address these matters that have arisen as a consequence of the which the SPLM has pulled out its Ministers participating in the central government. That was indeed very welcomed. We would want to support this as much as we can as well as further progress with regard to the implementation of all aspects of the comprehensive peace agreement.
Again, I must also say President, thank you very much for the briefing on Darfur. We are indeed very pleased. We all share a common commitment for the speediest resolution of that conflict or the earliest deployment of the AU-UN Hybrid Force (UMAMID), the speediest conclusion of the political negotiations and the need indeed to ensure that all of these armed groups in Darfur respect the international opinion to participate in those peace talks and indeed it was very distressing that some of them decided to stay away from the recent peace conference held in Libya and we urge that the international community really does take the position that everybody joins that process because this is a critical element of the solution of the conflict in Darfur. Essentially, the Abuja Peace Agreement which was already (inaudible) we need to bring everybody else on board with regard to that.
We will in all of these respects Mr President work with you to ensure all of these results we need. Because a peaceful and united and prosperous Sudan is critically important for the people of Sudan but also we believe President for the rest of us on the African continent.
But thank you very much for coming Mr President and thank you for bringing us November rains.
Remarks by President Omar El-Bashir
Excellency, President Thabo Mbeki
Members of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you to you and all the people of South Africa for all the hospitality and warmth that has been accorded to ourselves since our arrival.
Excellency President Thabo Mbeki I would like to thank you for all the time given to us in order to look at all the challenges we have in our country, especially as regards the implementation of the CPA and the issue of Darfur.
Dear brother, the various agreements that have just been signed serve as testimony for the promotion of our bilateral relations between our two countries in various fields for the promotion of economic and scientific relations.
Also Excellency, the elevation of the level of the Joint Binational Commission from a technical level to that of Ministers is also an indication of how serious the relations between the two countries are.
Excellency, we are aware that the relationship between South Africa and Sudan will have an impact on that of the rest of the Continent.
Excellency, I would like to assure you once again, that we are committed to implementing all the agreements we have finalised that will serve to promote the relations between both countries.
Excellency, Ministers I would like to say once again on behalf of myself and the members of my delegation for this opportunity to visit South Africa and for your hospitality.
Questions and answers
Answer (President Thabo Mbeki) President El-Bashir has raised the matter with us in the past on the need for us to increase our deployment in the Darfur Peacekeeping Force. It is a question we are dealing with.
With regard to the pledges that were made with regard to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the development of the South in Sudan and the role South Africa can play in the post-reconstruction and development committee of the African Union on Sudan: this is why I had raised the matter of the pledges that were made and the poor response of the international community in meeting those pledges, this is a matter we will follow up because it is part of the role South Africa can play as chair of this particular committee.
So, we must go back to those who made the pledges and ask them the question we have just asked: why have you not honoured your promises? We will do this.
Question President El-Bashir, the leader of the UNAMID Force was in South Africa last week and indicated that apart from needing a minimum of about 38 helicopters and additional troops, he also said that before the force to be operational by the end of the year there had to be an agreement between the government of Sudan, the AU and the UN. As far as he was aware, this had not been in place as at last week. When will there be such an agreement?
Answer (President El-Bashir) The matter of the Hybrid Force for Darfur has arisen from various agreements between all parties – the Government of Sudan, the AU and the UN. There is nothing further to be signed because we have already concluded the agreement, including the financing of the operation. As soon as the resolution was signed the United Nations Secretary General was supposed to present a report to the General Assembly, but this has not happened.
(President Thabo Mbeki) With regard to the matter of the helicopters and the ground support, this is an appeal that the AU and UN have made to the international community. And the position has been that this matter does not require negotiations between the Government of Sudan, UN and AU – it requires commitment to supply these helicopters and the ground transport. It is not new agreement, it is part of the agreement regarding the hybrid force. It is just that the international community has not responded in a manner that was expected and I know that the Secretary-General of the United Nations continues to make that appeal. But as the President has said, it does not require a new agreement. It requires the forces and commitments that already have been agreed to. It is only that the international community has not responded to this.
Question President Mbeki, has South Africa considered sending more troops to Darfur? Is so, how many more?
Answer (President Mbeki) Yes, the President had raised this matter with South Africa some time back on the need to reinforce our presence in Darfur within the context of what has been agreed to that Hybrid Force. I have just mentioned that, for instance, the Secretary-General says we need helicopters, we need ground transport so yes indeed we are looking at that because we are committed to making a commitment to the resolution of this matter and to the extent that we can, looking at what is required, we will. The infantry forces, for instance, are over-subscribed in terms of what has been agreed. There is a 200% commitment as far as that is concerned. But there are other gaps that must be looked at, bearing in mind of the commitments South Africa is seized with. We still have troops as well as equipment in both the DRC and Burundi. But we will certainly look at this matter.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
7 November 2007