Notes following Media Briefing by Deputy Minister Fatima Hajaig the Iraqi Under-Secretary, Labeed Abbawi, 14 April 2009.

Deputy Minister Hajaig

Ladies and Gentlemen.

We had very successful talks between the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs from Iraq and South Africa. I think we discussed a number of issues and we have decided that Iraq and South Africa will promote strong bilateral relations in the economic, political and trade fields.

There are a number of things which are common to both Iraq and South Africa which increases the basis of our cooperation. Also, in terms of the experiences that we have, in our own Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we have agreed to share our knowledge with the Iraqi people to assist them in overcoming their problems of reconciliation between the different parties in Iraq.

We have also discussed a number of other issues, in terms of electoral law in our country and the forthcoming elections, as well as the elections that they have conducted and will be conducting at the end of this year. How different it is from what had happened during the time of Saddam Hussein. We have also discussed amongst other things, and the Deputy Minister will add his voice, what we feel about what is happening in Palestine.

Palestine as you know is at the core of the fires raging in the Middle East  and until countries are serious about finding a just solution in Palestine ,and for both countries, Israel and Palestine must live in secure borders and stability, full security and justice . I think its one of the core things that we have to grapple with if we want to really see peace and stability in the region.

And I am going to hand over to my counterpart here.

Thank you!

Under-Secretary Labeed Abbawi

Madame Deputy Minister

Members of the Press

I would like to reiterate the kind words expressed by Her Excellency This is the first governmental visit to South of the new regime in Iraq. I am pleased to be here and accept the kind invitation to have discussion on many things we have with South Africa, and we have dealt with all these issues with South Africa and I think we have reached a common understanding on all the topics we discussed. We consider South Africa as having an important role and contribution not only in the African continent and the national arena but also in its support in helping countries like Iraq which is now undergoing the process of reconstruction. We discussed possibilities and areas where South Africa can be friendly and trusted partner with Iraq and mainly in the process of reconstruction as you know Iraq has come out from the war, from the dictatorship almost destroyed the infrastructure and almost everything so we are building everything anew. South African business and investors can contribute and can be part of international interests in Iraq.

We have touched on regional issues, on the question of Palestine. We have reiterated our full support to the Palestinian struggle for the people to obtain their full rights and become a state and that Israel should be pressurised by the international forces in order to be a viable partner in attaining a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue and the Middle East crisis. We explained the Arab Initiative of peace in Middle East. We are, as states, trying to make contact with the international community, in order the United States to pressurise the Israelis to be much more positive in this process

We have spoken about the training centres, electoral law and the role of women which we all support They have a more important role in the political and social life in our country and also we also touched on the reconciliation because we would like to draw from South African experience in this process we are embarking on and I think there is a lot we can learn from South Africa. I think that we can exchange delegation and people who are directly involved in this process. We have agreed to continue our political contacts and exchange of high level delegations in the future and also economic and trade exchanges.

I am confident that our bilateral relations will develop in the future.

Thank your very much for that possibility to be here

Question

Independent News

Was there any discussion on the continued operation of the South African security officials in Iraq?

We have touched on a lot of issues but not in detail on that and I think we are, as you said there are thousands of South Africans who are involved in security companies in Iraq but now after the signing of the agreement of the withdrawal of forces with the United states there is a new law which the Ministry of Interior is which is coming out how to organise the presence of these companies in order that there will not be any wrongdoing as was the case before, I think that we can do that with the agreement and consultation with the Government of South Africa to approach this matter.

Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria, 0001

14 April 2009.

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