Notes of Media Briefing by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Aziz Pahad, Pretoria, Friday, 18 May 2007
Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad:
Let me first of all start with the area that continues to threaten
International Peace and Stability, namely the Middle East region. As we said in
our statement yesterday, we are extremely concerned about the continuing violent
clashes between armed Palestinian factions affiliated to the Fatah Movement and
the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) in Palestine. We regret the deaths of
44 Palestinians over the last 5 days coming in the wake of efforts by the Arab
League to boost the Arab Peace Initiative on the international scene. It is the
view of the South African Government that the Palestinian infighting would complicate
the quest for peace by drawing the attention away from this critical opportunity
to take the Peace Process forward. The South African Government therefore joins
calls by both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh
for efforts to keep the Palestinian Government of National Unity intact. The collapse
of the National Unity Government would only serve the interests of those who do
not want to see Israelis and Palestinians living in peace with each other, in
separate states within internationally recognised borders. South Africa, accordingly,
calls on all Palestinians to end the violence and re-focus the Palestinian leadership
on the Peace Process. South Africa calls on the international community not to
be seen to intervene on either side, while asking for the lifting of sanctions
to help deal with the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding.
REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO:
Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations
Charter, the United Nations Security Council has decided to extend the deployment
of the United Nations Organisation mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(MONUC) until 31 December 2007, and authorized the continuation until that date
of up to 17 030 military personnel, 760 military observers, 391 police trainers
and 750 personnel of formed police units. Unanimously adopting resolution 1756
(2007), the Council also decided that MONUC would have the mandate to help the
Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo establish a stable security
environment in the country to help build a stable political situation.
Charles Nqakula, the Facilitator of the Burundi Peace Process and Ambassador Kingsley
Mamabolo, the Special Envoy to the Great Lakes travelled to Burundi on 11 - 13
May 2007 to assist in unblocking the negotiations that had stalled. The Palipehutu-FNL
was demanding that before it agrees with the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement,
certain conditionalities should be met, and this amounts to the following:
Possible placement of their senior leadership in Cabinet and Senate.
a concurrence be reached on the Forces Technical Agreement.
It will be recalled
that during the Ceasefire Agreement the Palipehutu-FNL had called for the dismantling
of the Burundi Army on grounds that the Army had been corrupted and was committing
acts of violence and human rights abuses. The Palipehutu-FNL is therefore advocating
for an Agreement that would secure the integration of their forces and at the
same time transform the army into a transparent and democratic institution. The
position of Burundi is that it cannot enter into another round of negotiations.
The government argues that a Ceasefire Agreement has been reached and what is
left is to ensure its implementation. However, President Nkurunziza, in recent
discussions with the Facilitation indicated his readiness to meet Chairman Agathon
Rwasa of Palipehutu-FNL to discuss issues raised. He has emphasised his willingness
to accommodate some of Palipehutu-FNL's concerns as long as their requests do
not demand that the violation of the Constitution.
The Facilitation is
now in the process of negotiating a possible meeting between the Palipehutu-FNL
and government to discuss matters which now appear to be outside the Ceasefire
Agreement and therefore not within the mandate of the Facilitation. The Facilitation
is also consulting with Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Jakaya Kikwete, Chairperson
and Deputy Chair of the Regional Initiative of the Burundi Peace Process respectively.
It is important for the process to move faster, we should ensure that we have
sufficient resources to sustain the progress made.
status of the Western Sahara has been reviewed by the United Nations each year
since 1964. The question of Western Sahara remains at an impasse and there continues
to be a lack of agreement on how to enable the people of Western Sahara to exercise
their right of self-determination. On 30 April 2007 United Nations Security Council
members unanimously adopted Resolution 1754 (2007) urging Morocco and the POLISARIO
Front to open unconditional talks on the disputed Western Sahara region under
the supervision of the United Nations "with a view to achieving a just, lasting
and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination
of the people of Western Sahara." The resolution also includes the extension
of the mandate of MINURSO, the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara,
to 31 October 2007.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
The European Union and the US on 11 May 2007 circulated the
text of a draft resolution on the status of Kosovo. The text reflects their conviction
that the Ahtisaari Plan holds the best solution to the situation in Kosovo. The
draft resolution entails:
- Endorses the Ahtisaari Plan;
resolution 1244 (1999);
- Calls for the replacement of the UN presence
by an International Presence;
- Recognises the uniqueness of Kosovo;
States that resolving the Kosovo issue is a matter of international peace and
- Calls for regular reports to the Security Council.
resolution is to be adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which means that
it will be legally binding on all Member States. Negotiations on the draft resolution
will start soon and it is anticipated that the matter will be finalized by the
end of May 2007.
The Russian Federation has distributed elements of a possible
resolution but these have not as yet been translated into a formal draft text.
We have noted the visit by the US Secretary of State to Moscow on 15 May
2007 during which she discussed the issue of Kosovo with President Putin. Ms Rice
has commented that she understands the concerns of Russia about Kosovo, particularly
re the Serbian minority, concerning what some see as to have the potential for
a precedent by Kosovo's independence. And we are going to try and work through
these in the resolution. But ultimately time has come to make what is de jure,
de facto. South Africa is also awaiting the outcome of the EU-Russia Summit.
preparation for this, South Africa has consulted widely and has received visits
- Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, the architect of the plan for Kosovo's
- The Foreign Minister of Serbia
- The Serbian Orthodox
Bishop of Kosovo; and
- Mr. Ylber Hysa of the Kosovo Status Negotiating
- Minister Dlamini Zuma also met with the President of Kosovo, Dr.
Fatmir Sejdiu in Brussels on 14 May 2007.
We have also consulted widely at
the United Nations.
SOUTH AFRICAN - EUROPEAN UNION MINISTERIAL
TROIKA, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
On Monday, 14 May 2007, Minister Dlamini Zuma
supported by a Senior Ministerial Delegation participated in the South African-
European Union Ministerial Troika which was co-chaired by Minister Dlamini Zuma
and her counterpart, Minister Frank - Walter Steinmeier. The EU Troika was also
composed of Dr. Luis AMADO, Portuguese Foreign Minister (who recently paid a visit
to South Africa), Javier SOLANA, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and
Security Policy and Mr.Olli REHN, Commissioner for Enlargement of the European
Commission. Amongst issues on the agenda for this meeting was the EU - Africa
Strategy which will be adopted at the EU - Africa Summit in Lisbon, December,
2007. Discussions on Migration, Kosovo, Developments in Africa (Great Lakes, Cot'D'Ivoire,
Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, and Zimbabwe also took place. The Situation in the Middle
East, Climate Change and UN Chapter V111 issues were also discussed. Ministers
agreed to hold their next meeting in South Africa under the Portuguese Presidency.
A Joint Communique was agreed upon which is posted on the dfa website: www.dfa.gov.za
DELEGTION'S SA VISIT
South Africa also hosted a delegation of the "Movimiento
al Socialismo" (MAS), the majority party in the Bolivian Assembly, this week.
The Bolivian delegation's visit is in response to the South African Government's
offer to Vice President Garcia Lenera during his visit in April 2007, to assist
the Bolivians with institution-building and the process of drafting their constitution.
It was furthermore agreed that they interact with South African constitutional
specialists from Parliament, senior officials, academics, captains of industry,
civil society and the Constitutional Court.
The purpose of the Bolivian visit
was threefold: To strengthen bilateral relations: To identify areas of future
co-operation between the two countries and; To sign a Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) on the establishment of a Mechanism for Consultations. The discussions focused
on the South African experience in breaking deadlocks and creating trust in the
Constitution Making Process to the benefit of the people. The Bolivian authorities
have indicated their interest in benefiting from South Africa's experience with
regards to the creation of a successful civil service. The visit must be seen
as a part of work in progress between the two countries.
BY MINISTER DLAMINI ZUMA T0 BEIJING TO HOLD DISCUSSIONS WITH CHINESE COUNTERPART
(19 - 22 MAY 2007)
Foreign Minister Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will
hold bilateral political and economic discussions with her counterpart Foreign
Minister Yang Jiechi on Sunday 20 May 2007. This visit is important in the context
of China as an economic power and Chinese entry onto the African Continent. Discussions
between Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Yang come within the context of South Africa's
priority to consolidate political, economic and trade relations with the Peoples
Republic of China - with a focus on a developmental agenda. South Africa's strategic
engagement with China is a key foreign policy priority. China has been identified
as a key global actor with whom South Africa seeks to broaden relations in support
of South-South cooperation, another key objective of South Africa's foreign policy.
Issues on the agenda of discussions between Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Jiechi
are expected to include, among others:
- The status of bilateral political
and economic relations between both countries;
- Preparations for the Binational
Commission scheduled to be held in the second half of 2007;
of the 10th Anniversary of Diplomatic relations;
- A briefing on political
developments in Africa including peacekeeping and conflict resolution;
A briefing on developments in Asia; and
- Security Council issues.
Africa is China's key trade partner in Africa, accounting for nearly 21 percent
of the total volume of China-Africa trade. In 2006 South African exports amounted
to nearly R14, 02 billion, with imports reaching R46, 72 billion. In 2006 China
became South Africa's 2nd largest import trading partner, and 6th largest export
partner. One of the focus areas would be to secure more investment into South
The delegations will also look at how to implement the decisions and
commitments of the Africa-China Forum and the New Asia -Africa Strategic Partnership.
VISIT BY PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI TO HANOI, VIETNAM (24 - 25 MAY 2007)
African President Thabo Mbeki, supported by Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini
Zuma is scheduled to pay a State Visit to Hanoi, Vietnam from Thursday - Friday
24-25 May 2007 - the first since 1994. This state visit occurs within the context
of South Africa's commitment to strengthen political, trade and economic relations
with Vietnam with a view to consolidating the developmental agenda of the South.
Issues on the agenda of discussions between Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Minh Triet
are expected to include, among others:
- The status of bilateral political
and economic relations between both countries;
- The support of Vietnam
for AsgiSA and JIPSA in terms of skills development and the sharing of best practice;
A briefing on developments in Africa with regard to post-conflict reconstruction
in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, Sudan, Darfur, Somalia and Cote
- Developments in the Middle East including the Iranian nuclear
conflict, Iraq and the Middle East Peace process;
- A briefing on developments
in Asia including Myanmar, East Timor and North Korea:
- The consolidation
of South-South co-operation through and within such fora as the NAM, the New Asia
Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP) and other multilateral organisations; and
Global challenges including South Africa's mandate as the Non-Permanent Member
of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) including UN Security Council.
Mbeki will also participate in the following events:
- South Africa
- Vietnam Business Forum,
- Present an address to the Institute of International
- Interact with students studying at the University; visit
the Temple of Literature, the Reunification Palace and the War Museum.
South Africa's view that there is a large potential for economic relations and
especially for the private sector to take up business opportunities in Vietnam
There are many long-term trade and investment opportunities for South African
companies in Vietnam.
VISIT OF UK PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR TO
SOUTH AFRICA: 31 MAY - 1 JUNE 2007:
The UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
is expected to pay an official visit to South Africa from 31 May to 1 June 2007.
The visit will be Prime Minister Blair's last to South Africa before stepping
down on 27 June 2007. This visit is also important because it takes place on the
eve of the G8 Summit to be held a week later in Germany. In addition to the official
welcome and extensive discussion with President Mbeki, it is foreseen that Prime
Minister Blair will deliver a farewell speech - expected to focus strongly on
The Government of Prime Minister Blair consistently emphasized the
importance of Africa's development agenda by designating 2005 as the Year of Africa.
Africa's development, therefore, was a primary item on the agenda of the G8 Summit
in Gleneagles, and many of the recommendations of the Commission for Africa were
taken up by the Gleneagles Summit, building on the G8 Africa Action Plan launched
at Kananaskis in Canada in 2002. Much of this was incorporated into an agreed,
detailed set of commitments by the G8 to address the areas of poverty, covering
aspects such as peace and security, good governance, human development and growth.
British Government views South Africa as a major strategic partner in Africa and
we expect that this relationship will be maintained by Mr Blair's successor. Prime
Minister's visit presents an opportunity to review our relations and how these
can be taken forward.
Has the issue of Zimbabwe's attendance on the EU-Africa meeting in December been
discussed and decided on during Minister Dlamini Zuma's recent meetings in Brussels
Answer: I am not sure that it was discussed at the meetings,
but assume it might have been given it was the issue that held up previous Summits.
From SA's point of view is that there are so many important issues and interaction
between Africa and the EU like economics and trade, conflict resolution, migration
and climate change, Kosovo independence that needs to be addressed at Summit level.
I don't think the Zimbabwe issue was high on the agenda at these talks, since
the focus was on the need to continue with preparations for a Summit and rather
see later how the Zimbabwe issue unfolds. We think that the long-awaited Summit
is absolutely essential and the issue of representation should not stall our concrete
preparations and take away from the overall importance of the Summit.
What is South Africa doing to address worsening trade gap in China's favour
- any specific actions to be taken?
Answer : While trade issues
fall under the responsibility of DTI, I know that we are trying to look at how
we can be involve China in areas of beneficiation. We must identify the areas
of beneficiation, what resources are available - then say what we can put in and
asking what they can put in. At the same time we must look at what we can export
to China. All the important leaders of China have visited South Africa and they
keep asking what we can sell to them, what products can we supply to them and
stating that they will give it favourable assessment? These assurances we have
had from China and Russia. Our private sector needs to concretely identify those
areas - we as Foreign Affairs and Government cannot do that. We however encourage
our private sector all the time to come up with concrete proposals to increase
our exports, to bring in more investments, to bring in the skilled personnel that
our country need - in line with JIPSA and ASGISA. Government has created the environment
for better co-ordination and co-operation and it in incumbent on the private sector
to exploit those export opportunities. One must acknowledge that with regards
to Africa they have done excellently in building relations we encourage them to
do the same with regards to trade with China, maybe also through trilateral arrangements,
including countries of Europe. The growing SA economy is providing opportunities
for greater partnerships.
Question: China has reportedly provided
the equivalent of about R250million in development assistance to South Africa
to be used for skills upgrade. What is the progress on this?
Questions on the commitments re the allocation of development funding,
including for JIPSA needs to be taken up with the Deputy Presidency and the Treasury,
who are dealing with these matters. I think the key issue is that there were many
commitments made at the China-Africa Summit and that the idea was that each country
would unpack these commitments either through the structures of SADC or NEPAD.
I believe we need to spent much more time on the important agreements from the
New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership and TICAD (with Japan) and concretely unpack
these to see whether we are getting maximum mileage.
the Deputy Minister comment on the latest re the proposed Hamas leader's visit
to South Africa?
Answer: We cannot fight for democracy and then
reject democracy and the vote of the people. SA's thus officially recognised the
Palestinian government lead by Hamas. After the Mecca Agreement, a government
of national unity was established and we agreed to continue to interact with that
government. Pres Abass has visited South Africa and it is expected that Prime
Minster Imail Haniyeh from Hamas will accept the invitation to visit South Africa
like other Palestinian ministers and representatives have visited recently. We
don't deal with Fatah and Hamas as a government, we deal with their government
authority at a government to government level, while ANC would interact with them
as movements at a party level. While the invitation to Prime Minister is at an
official level, that is based on a principle decision as we would similarly interact
with members of the Israeli government. That is because we are working on a two
state solution continuously seeing how we can assist. SA is now very committed
to the Arab Plan of 2002, because we believe that is the best possibility for
a regional solution. The plan is base on return to the 1967 borders, establish
a Palestinian state and normalise relations - economically and politically - and
security of both states and I think that is an excellent basis to move forward.
We would thus multilaterally and bilaterally support the Arab Plan as a basis
to move forward.
Question: What are the changes for a favourable
outcome of the UNSCR vote on independence for Kosovo?
is a fundamental and priority issue to the EU and the US. As I tried to outline
to you, South Africa is awaiting the draft motion as proposed by the EU and the
US, although it is believed that the Russians have some concerns of the Ahtisaari
Plan, and they have not indicated what these are and have not provided any alternatives.
We have not had detailed feedback on the US Secretary of State's meeting with
Russians and now the EU-Africa plan, but we are hopeful a common approach would
come from these consultations. South Africa has a good idea of all the positions
and have consulted extensively, including as I have indicated Minister Dlamini
Zuma having met the President of Kosovo during her European visit a few days ago.
As the Minster will now also consult on the issue in China and we will wait for
her feedback with the hope of a common approach. We will obviously look at what
the Russians' approach will be - there are no indications yet whether the will
veto or not veto the resolution to be put forward. We will thus have to wait for
all these pieces to fall into place. While it is clear there are fundamental differences
between the US and Russia, it is our hope that all the discussions that are taking
place can result in a common approach.
Question : What is the delay
in the solution of the situation of the Western Sahara? What is the African Union
view on this?
Answer: The issue has been with the UN since 1964.
The initial UN settlement plan was first approved by both sides and then later
rejected by the Moroccans, then came the Baker initiative and that was rejected
again. You have a difficulty that many powerful forces believe that it is not
a decolonisation issue - despite UN resolutions and international legal rulings
- therefore it can have some limited autonomy within the framework of Morocco.
But the people of Western Sahara totally reject that - they believe they are a
sovereign state, previously occupied by Spain, then Morocco, despite international
rulings stating they should be an independent states and they want a referendum
in line with the UN resolution to determine what they want. So there is no meeting
of minds of the two sides. In terms of the African Union, 21 countries have recognised
the Polisario Front and we argue for that decolonisation process in line with
the UN Resolution
Question :What are the prospects for a solution
in the Middle East if there is not even agreement on the basic issue of a Palestinian
Answer: The issue of a Palestinian State is not debatable,
the issue is its boundaries and we have been arguing that it is in Israel's long
term interest to accept that and not to try and cut it up into pieces, without
giving it the necessary authority and allow other general aspects of sovereignty.
We believe the Palestinians want a two state solution and we support that. Our
arguments with Israel have been over securing their own security - by increasing
settlements, putting up walls, border closures continuing and creating an untenable
situation in occupied territories especially in Gaza. We believe the situation
cannot be solved militarily, but only through genuine negotiations and that is
why we see some hope with the Arabs over the last year or two being involved more
actively in trying to get the Israelis to accept the Arab Plan unconditionally
and then come and talk. The current start of discussion between Egypt, Jordan
and Israel is important and this can open the way for a broader Arab Israeli discussion.
I think we are closer to finding a solution then we have been for many years
Indications are that the IAEA report of next week will be negative in terms of
Iran stopping its nuclear activities. Is there support for a third round of sanctions?
The issue of Iran is not going anywhere fast and we warned that once you go
to the UN Security Council and set deadlines, things can only escalate. The escalation
of sanctions is as a result of the confrontational approach of attacks and counter-attacks,
with warnings from all sides without explaining what it will be. We will continue
through the IAEA and through our membership of the UNSC to say that Iran must
finalise the two outstanding issues to the IAEA. Nobody is challenging a country's
right to develop nuclear facilities for peaceful means, but people are saying
because of Iran's past record they cannot be trusted. We are saying that through
the IAEA you should have the safety mechanisms put in place to ensure that such
an energy programme is not misused for other purposes. We voted for the Resolution
last time, and we will now wait to see what progress if any had been made and
on the basis of that it will be determine how we vote. Although now there is no
more voting, but incremental procedure - because if there is no progress within
60 days the next steps fall into place.