Notes on Conclusion of South Africa – United Kingdom Bilateral Forum
Presidential Guesthouse, Pretoria, Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma

Let me just say we have had very good and constructive discussions on a whole range of sectors.  As you would see from the communiqué, we have discussed everything from health – you witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding – we have discussed sports, trade and industry, migration, climate change, general political issues, science and technology – so we have discussed a whole range of issues and we have also received very interesting reports from the young people from the different sectors talking about peacekeeping, conflict resolution, climate change, economic issues, corporate responsibility and so on.  So we have really had very broad and deep discussions.

On the political front we have discussed both bilateral issues, issues on the African agenda and multilateral issues.  Off course, issues on the multilateral agenda, included particularly Sudan and all its facets and the one you are all waiting for – Zimbabwe.  We discussed co-operation between the European Union and the African Union and other issues.

We also discussed on the multilateral front non-proliferation issues including Iran, the reform of the United Nations including the Security Council with all its difficulties in this area – so we really covered a lot.

Suffice to say, we have mapped out a roadmap for the next 12-18 months and we hope that during that period we will be able to implement a lot of the agreements we have reached and that indeed, we will have concrete deliverables to see in the coming years.

You have just witnessed the certificates being handed out – this comes from concrete co-operation of what our two countries in the area of crime prevention and all that goes with it have achieved.

So, indeed we have had a good forum.  Our relations have strengthened, we have a better understanding on many areas – before I give the floor to the Foreign Secretary – I would also like to say that there was good progress particularly around the issue of the visa waiver issue and we do hope that in the coming months, further discussions will take place and that hopefully agreements will be reached on how to deal with the general migration issues and particularly the visa waiver issue.

Thank you.

Remarks by Foreign Secretary David Miliband

Thank you very much Foreign Minister and I am delighted to have the chance to say publicly what I have said privately: that your hospitality and welcome has been enormously appreciated by all six of the Ministers who have participated in this bilateral forum.  It has been a friendly forum and it has been a frank forum in which real issues have been discussed, real perspectives exchanged and real understandings developed.  I think it is important to say, from a British point of view, our governments are joined by strong, shared values as well as strong historical links and a strong shared commitment to build the relationship between our two countries, not just because it is in the interests of Britain and South Africa but because we are both conscious of South Africa as a leading member of the African Union and Britain as a leading member of the European Union.  We have the ability to do good for each other but also for our respective neighbours.  It is important to emphasise that there are real deliverables and follow through from previous bilateral fora – whether climate change, or on health and I fully share the Minister’s ambition that we follow through with similar determination on issues that have been raised here.

We grouped them really into three issues – the bilateral where there are aspects of joy and challenge – I’m thinking of sport which unites us both in tears and triumph – most often in tears rather than triumph but also in respect of the visa waiver test.  We welcome the exchange – educational, cultural, tourist – between our two countries and I am very pleased with both the commitments of the Ministers of Foreign and Home Affairs to work closely to tackle the problems that are giving rise to real concerns in both of our countries and to work closely together so that the institutions and structures and systems are put in place so that a new visa regime will not be necessary in 6 months, there is a real shared commitment to work hard together on mitigation measures to tackle this very real problem that we both recognise.

On the African agenda: obviously we talked about Zimbabwe as the whole world is talking about Zimbabwe.  I think that we both recognise the crisis that exists in that country – economic, security and political and we will all be working through our own institutions and I hope, together with the United Nations, to try to ensure that a peaceful resolution is brought to your troubled neighbour. 

I am travelling from South Africa to Sudan and I very much value the wise words from Minister Dlamini Zuma in helping me to understand the difficulties that exist in that country.

On the multilateral front: we are both strong believers in the multilateral system and we are both reformers of the multilateral system and we look forward to taking that agenda forward together because on trade – our trade ministers have today made a very strong commitment to work together for a global deal – on climate change where for many years we have been working together and we want to continue this and on the nuclear non-proliferation agenda – Britain and South Africa have an enormous amount to gain from working together closely.

In conclusion, I do want to reiterate the value that we place on this bilateral forum – now including civil society – and we very much look forward to the next instalments – both in following through the discussions we have had in the last few days and in the UK where we will next meet for the bilateral forum.

Thank you

Questions and answers

Question: Foreign Secretary, you yesterday set out 10 points to achieve the resolution of the situation in Zimbabwe.  Does this include the assistance of South Africa?

Answer: (Foreign Secretary Miliband) I am confident that there is a wide spread recognition of the regional nature of this crisis in Zimbabwe and the critical role, above all for this region, but also the international community as a whole, to ensure that there is as swift a resolution as possible and we will be continuing the discussions in New York, that have been taking place here and in Japan.  I think the days do matter in Zimbabwe and I know that South Africa has recognized the importance of that so we look forward to further discussions on the UN track and certainly we think that any resolution that does go through, obviously has to be a global resolution reflecting the international nature of the UN system and its unique ability to speak on a global scale.

Question: Minister Dlamini Zuma, I would like some clarity on whether South Africa will support UN sanctions against the Zimbabwe regime and if not, why not?

Answer: (Minister Dlamini Zuma) Our leaders are at the G-8 meeting as we speak.  They had their discussions and all of them who were there expressed reservations on sanctions to the G-8 leaders.  So we will take it from there.  Thank you.

Question: Foreign Secretary, have you during your time in South Africa, tried to lobby the South African government to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe and if so, what kind of sanctions were you talking about?

Answer: (Foreign Secretary Miliband) Lobbying suggests that there is something going in private which is not happening publicly.  We have been clear that we want to learn more about the situation in Zimbabwe – both from the refugees from Zimbabwe and the perspective of the Foreign Minister and other officials.  We have also been clear and open about our position and our own position was set out on Sunday at the Methodist Church and yesterday in my address to UNISA.  It has also been reinforced by the comments from our Prime Minister in Japan and so we have been discussing the best way forward in Zimbabwe bringing up different perspectives that are referred to in the communiqué.  Our perspective in one that I have set out yesterday and one that I have tried to explain to all and sundry – to the media or to governmental officials.

I was told yesterday that there is an old Sotho saying that if your neighbour’s house in on fire then your house in on fire and I sense that this is a crisis that the South African government recognizes is on its door and this comes through very very strongly from all levels of South African society.  We share that sense of anxiety at a distance and we believe that action at the UN can help reinforce the drive for dialogue at local level that respects the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people as expressed at the March 29th elections.  And I think that it is in all of our interests that discussion and debate goes on but if your question was intended to suggest that somehow there was a private track separate from the public one, I think this has been a forum that has been marked by real candor and engagement from both sides and it has benefitted enormously from that.

Question: Minister Dlamini Zuma, what is the official position from the South African government on the June 27th elections?  Does the South African government recognize President Mugabe as the legitimately elected President of Zimbabwe?

Answer: (Minister Dlamini Zuma) The South African government’s position having worked very closely with the Zimbabwean government and the Opposition over many years, has said that Zimbabwe needs an inclusive government that will reflect the diversity and the will of the people of Zimbabwe – a government that will be inclusive and will emerge from the dialogue between the Zanu-PF and the two parts of the MDC.  We have said, for sometime now, that the crisis in Zimbabwe needs all the Zimbabweans to work together to extricate Zimbabwe from its problems.  Our position has not changed.

Question: On non-proliferation and the Iranian nuclear programme – can you please elaborate more on the issue and if you discussed Iran’s answer to the package proposed by the P5+1?

Answer: (Foreign Secretary Miliband) There is a reference to this in the communiqué.  We are very clear that Iran is not yet in compliance with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The findings of the IAEA and its “serious concern about the Iranian nuclear non-proliferation,” I think is a warning to the world of the dangers of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.  Our package that that was delivered was intended to make absolutely clear that we are serious about constructive engagement with the Iranian regime.  At the moment, the nuclear choices that are being made by the Iranian regime in Tehran are denying their own people economic, cultural, scientific development that will benefit the Iranian people and we very much hope that when the talks take place between Mr Jalili and Mr Solana in Brussels next week that Mr Jalili will come to Brussels with a very strong intention to engage constructively with the proposals that have been put to him and his government.  I believe there is a clear choice for the Iranian government – one involves confrontation with the international community which is in no one’s interest.  The other involves engagement on the basis of rights and responsibilities and that is one that holds out very positive prospects for the Iranian people and that is the dialogue that we have had and we are both strong supporters of the IAEA and we look forward to Iran coming into compliance about its past studies and being clear about the peaceful nature of any uranium enrichment programme and its civilian nuclear power intentions which is one of the critical ways in which we need to resolve this issue.

(Minister Dlamini Zuma) Basically, we discussed the Iranian issue but we did not discuss the content of the package because it is not our package.  We do not know what is in it but we were informed that there is a package that is being offered to the Iranian government but as for the content, I am not aware.

Question: Minister Dlamini Zuma, do I understand that you do not recognize the current Zimbabwean government and will only recognize the one that emerges from the talks?

Answer: (Minister Dlamini Zuma) I said South Africa has for a long time said Zimbabwe needs an inclusive government to emerge from its problems and I am glad that the African Union has confirmed this and that lots of other international players have come round to that determination – that Zimbabwe requires an inclusive government.  Thank you

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

8 July 2008

 

 

 

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