Notes following Joint Media Briefing on conclusion of Discussions between Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Hosni Mubarak, Media Centre, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Tuesday 29 July 2008
Remarks by President Thabo Mbeki
Well President Mubarak, let me again extend a very warm welcome indeed to yourself and your delegation. I am indeed very pleased President that you could find the time to visit us. We maintain very very good relations with Egypt and indeed, as far as I know President, we are not fighting about anything.
So, President Mubarak’s visit is important from the point of view of looking at what additional steps we should take in order to strengthen the bilateral relations and indeed, there is quite a lot of work that is going to go into that because it is quite clear that we could further escalate these relations in many areas.
I was very pleased that during the course of our meeting earlier today when an offer was made to address two important problems in this country – that Egypt is ready to assist us with regard to the matter of the supply of doctors that we need because we are indeed in short supply here. We have to act on that. Engineers were also mentioned, that is another problematic area here but I am mentioning those just to illustrate the nature of the relations between the two countries and when Egypt becomes conscious that there are these needs and shortages here and to the extent that Egypt can help, this offer was made very readily. So I really want to say that we will, President, continue to work then to make sure that we do create all these necessary frameworks and everything that we need to expand these relations in the economic field and other fields.
But your visit President has also provided us with an opportunity to really thank you for the work that you are doing with regard to the Palestinian question. We are always very conscious and we always follow the interventions that you make with regard to what is a difficult issue but the matter of the future of the Palestinian people is one that is very close to our hearts and indeed, I want to say thank you very much President for the constant attention that you pay to this issue which I am quite certain will help to move this process towards its solution.
But off course, also to express appreciation, we sit together President on the NEPAD committee, work together in all sorts of areas, President was reminding me now that the Egyptian and South African economies are the two biggest economies on the continent and really, it should be natural that we should co-operate in what we can do together, given the capacities of both countries.
But let me say again President welcome. We are very glad that you are here and quite confident that your visit will help us further to promote what in reality are already excellent relations.
But welcome Mr President.
Remarks by President Hosni Mubarak
President Mbeki, I am going to express my thanks to you and all the brotherly people of South Africa for the warm welcome and hospitality.
I am gratified by the outcomes of our consultations today. Our discussions reflect the mutual resolve to invigorate our bilateral relations and co-operation so as to match the stature and capacity of the two countries at the African and global levels. Our consultations have touched upon a wide range of African issues including the current situation of peace and security on our continent as well as the role played by the two countries to enhance African interaction within the African Union and NEPAD.
We reviewed many regional issues of common interest including the Middle East Peace process (inaudible), the situation in Iraq, Iran’s nuclear programme as well as the crisis of the world economy and its implications on food security in developing countries, particularly in Africa.
Our discussions reiterated our mutual resolve to enhance our standing co-operation, increase investment, mining and energy, scientific research and technology as well as other priority fields of common interest. Our discussions revealed reciprocated determination to continue our consultations and co-operation on African, regional and global issues within the African Union, the United Nations as well as other regional and international groupings and organisations.
I have extended an invitation to my brother President Mbeki to visit Egypt in order to maintain the momentum and build upon the positive outcomes of today’s consultations.
Again, I would like to express my appreciation to President Mbeki and the people of South Africa.
I thank you.
Questions and answers
Question President Mbeki, South Africa has a longstanding position regarding fighting Apartheid, my question is regarding the Palestinian issue – you just thanked President Mubarak for his role in this issue – how can you use your very strong position with Israel as we understand it in order to help the Palestinians in their plight?
Answer We maintain very regular contact with President Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, always to get his own view, own advice on what we might do to assist in that process. You would know that we participated in the Annapolis Conference in the United States and indeed, supported the decision that was taken there visualising that negotiations would be concluded by the end of this year so we are fully supportive of that process hoping that it will indeed produce a result.
So, we have in the past, even when the late President Arafat was President of the Palestinian Authority, made interventions at any point that we were requested to do so with the Israeli government, we have done it.
But as I say, we are essentially guided by what President Abbas advises us to do in terms of any interventions we can make with the United States, and with other people.
Question President Mbeki, you have thanked President Mubarak for his mediation in the peace process. How is the mediation going with Zimbabwe?
Answer The negotiators are negotiating. They are continuing to meet. As you know, they have been meeting here now for a number of days and they are continuing to do that. They are doing very well and you will remember that in the Memorandum of Understanding they undertook that they would try and conclude the negotiations within two weeks of the signing of that Memorandum of Understanding. They are indeed very determined to keep to that commitment and so they are continuing to talk among themselves and indeed to reach agreements about various matters that are on their agenda. They have not concluded, they will be adjourning shortly for a few days because they want to do back to Harare to go and consult with their principles about the work that is being done and then come back by the end of the week to resume the negotiations. But they are proceeding.
Question Presidents, I would like to ask about Sudan and the indictment of President El-Bashir by the International Criminal Court?
Answer (President Mubarak) We did discuss this issue and we are both making efforts to find a solution and we are trying hard. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Arab League convened and President El Bashir was informed of the decisions so that if he could implement those then the case could perhaps be postponed for about 12 months during which something could happen to decrease the tension.
(President Mbeki) Yes, indeed, I want to agree completely with President Mubarak about this and we will be interacting with President El Bashir sometime later this week – he had wanted to send an envoy to come and discuss this matter with us and indeed, we will do this. And indeed, we support the position that President Mubarak has just indicated because there are important processes, as you know, going on in Sudan – the implementation of the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement and work that is going on to sort out the decision in Darfur and both of them would require very serious inputs by President El Bashir and it does not help to move those two important processes forward to now be considering these indictments. But we will discuss the matter with them and indeed I hope that we can solve matters so that we can indeed move forward with regard to these other important challenges in Sudan.
Question President Mubarak, President Mbeki has thanked you for your efforts with regard to the Palestinian issue. But where is the process now, we do not see any progress – where is the Palestinian – Palestinian Dialogue?
Answer This is a very complicated matter. I think we have made tremendous efforts to make the area quiet and after that we can bring the two parties together, then the negotiations. But at the same time there is negotiation between Abu Mazen and the Israelis. I cannot say anything further.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
29 July 2008