Notes following Bilateral Discussions between Minister Dlamini Zuma and Kuwaiti Counterpart Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa, Camps Bay, Cape Town, Tuesday 19 February 2008

Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma

Well, thank you very much ladies and gentlemen of the media.

I will give you a brief overview and leave my counterpart to provide the details.

We were very happy that my counterpart was able to make this trip.  We still remember our own trip to the State of Kuwait with fondness – we had a very good time there.  We had very constructive discussions and we can see the results of this visit.

Our relations at the political level did not need any help.  However, we thought we needed to look at expanding areas of co-operation and encouraging our private sector to co-operate, invest in each other’s countries, increase trade and off course, we looked at some of the short term areas of work that will precede the visit by President Mbeki to the State of Kuwait and we will probably, in the short term, concentrate on these things that will allow him to have a fruitful visit to Kuwait.

We also discussed the Middle East – Iraq, Iran, Palestine and Israel and the region in general. 

We discussed Africa including areas like the Comoros and so on.

So we have had a very good discussion and we are very happy.  Our discussions will continue over lunch.

Again, once more, you are very welcome and we are very happy you have been able to visit.

Remarks by Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs

Thank you Minister Dlamini Zuma.

We recall that your visit to Kuwait was a great success and paved the way for this visit. 

I come here, not just as a Foreign Minister of the State of Kuwait which has a keen interest in strengthening ties with South Africa but also as a member of the Gulf Co-operating Council (GCC) which is also eager to build more bridges on all areas with South Africa and we have actually discussed areas of co-operation between the GCC and South Africa as well as the GCC and SADC.  We discussed the need to have a Summit between the GCC and South Africa.

I am also here in my capacity as the Chair of the Arab side of the Arab-Africa Dialogue and we discussed the need for closer Arab-Afro partnerships and being in South Africa which represents one of the leaders of Africa we can expedite this political co-operation between our two worlds, if you will.

We discussed at length, developments in my part of the world and the role that South Africa can play.  South Africa is not only a respected country in Africa but it carries an enormous influence and respect in the Arab world.  South Africa has presented a model from which we can all learn – national reconciliation.  We need to learn and benefit from the South African experience and how you have moved from a period of conflict to a period of peace.

Also, South Africa is a leading country in terms of technology from which we can benefit.  We discussed the areas of how we can benefit from the opportunities the South African economy can provide to us in Kuwait and in the Gulf region particularly with regard to the edge of scientific research being undertaken by South Africa: environmentally friendly nuclear technology. 

We have in the GCC made a decision to explore the deployment and use of nuclear energy for power generation and water desalination.  We discussed the opportunity for co-operation in this regard.

The major item was really the presentation that I made to President Mbeki yesterday by the Emir of Kuwait and I am greatly delighted and honoured to be able to take the news back home to my leader that President Mbeki has accepted the invitation and that he is going to make a trip to visit Kuwait during 2008.  This has really focused our attention, both that of Minister Dlamini Zuma and me, to work hard to make this historic visit to Kuwait a success.  There are numerous areas of co-operation.  We are now in the process of ironing out some of the minor details in the agreements that will be signed, hopefully, during the visit of Minister Dlamini Zuma ahead of the visit o President Mbeki to the State of Kuwait.

Thank you for your hospitality and most importantly, thank you for choosing this beautiful city in which to host these bilateral discussions.

Questions and answers

Question   Your Excellency, if I heard you correctly you said, that Kuwait has decided on a programme of peaceful nuclear generation for peaceful purposes.  It has no nuclear programme at the moment?

Answer   (Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs) It is not just Kuwait – it is the GCC – at the last Summit held in Saudi Arabia we decided that the GCC should explore the possibility of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes precisely for power generation and desalination.  We do not have nuclear capacity at the moment – none of the GCC (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman) has this capacity.

Question   Minister Dlamini Zuma, in terms of trade relations: where does Kuwait stand in terms of South Africa’s trading partners?

Answer   (Minister Dlamini Zuma) The trade between South Africa and Kuwait has been increasing and this is what is very important for us.  There has been a steady increase over the last few years and we hope that this trend will continue.

It is one of our trading partners in the GCC – the UAE is probably the biggest – but Kuwait is also a very important trading partner.

Kuwait is also very important as an investment partner – Kuwait has made lots of investment in South Africa in many areas – real estate, the hotel industry, golf courses and so on. 

As we have said, we are now looking at other opportunities which the South African economy offers to Kuwaiti investors and indeed, Kuwait is not just speculating on our stock exchange, it is investing money into long term investments and that is very important.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

19 February 2008

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