Statement by Minister M. Nkoana·Mashabane on the occasion of the Signing Ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Establishment of a Bilateral Strategic Dialogue between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the UnitedStates of America Washington DC, 14 April 2010

Your Excellency Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,

Permit me on behalf of my Government to congratulate you on the successful Nuclear Security Summit convened by your President. I would like to assure you and your Government of my Government's commitment to ensuring that - in collaboration with the United States and other important stakeholders – the important goals of disarmament, non-proliferation and, most importantly, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy are attained.

I am also very pleased that the Secretary of State and I could schedule time to meet today, following on the bilateral meeting between our Presidents, who asked us to ensure that our bilateral relations are materially strengthened - which is the purpose of our Strategic Dialogue. Echoing what President Obama said when he met with President Zuma on Sunday, it is my hope that in the long term we will say of each other that we are true friends.

As you know, your Mission in Pretoria and my Department are working hard to ensure that our Annual Bilateral Forum yields satisfactory results for both our Governments. We also need at this time, under the leadership of Presidents Zuma and Obama, to approach our relations from a co-operative basis, covering a diverse range of issues, such as the recovery of the global financial crisis; pursuit of sustainable economic and social development; the reform of the United Nations Security Council; and achieving peace, security and stability in Africa. Our collective efforts to support Africa must make a real impact on its quest for renewal and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

I am heartened by the warm rapport we have established with each other, in a situation where our two countries face challenges which require us to understand each other, in order to keep our relations at a level where they truly make a difference in the livelihoods of our respective peoples.

Therefore, I am pleased to be here today to sign this MoU – which provides us with a mechanism to support this renewed friendship. It is my view that for this MOU to be a living organism which delivers tangible results, the Working Groups established under the ABF must be reinvigorated and realigned to our key priorities in their work. For example, when our presidents met on Sunday, President Obama congratulated President Jacob Zuma on his leadership on the HIV/AIDs challenge in South Africa; indicating that he would like to find other ways to be more helpful. This must be a priority for the ABF; and addressed through the Working Groups.

President Obama also identified Agriculture and Food Security as another key issue on which we can cooperate. With this again, I think through the ABF supported by the relevant Working Group, there is a lot we can accomplish. We stand ready to engage constructively on matters arising from the Copenhagen summit, as suggested by President Obama and agreed to by President Zuma. With this again, scope can be created for a constructive dialogue within the ABF for our officials to enhance understanding on both sides of our positions. We welcome President Obama's willingness to support Africa's conflict resolution and peace building efforts of the AU. South Africa will of course do its part in pursuance of these efforts. You and I in essence have a lot of catching up to do to make up for the time lost, prior to our two Presidents assuming office, in strengthening our relations.

The upcoming FIFA World Cup should also make a significant contribution to my Government's vision of a better life for all; also in the African Continent in terms of the positive legacy that the World Cup and all that goes with it should leave behind once the games are over. We are ready and look forward to receiving your countrymen and women, who are the biggest block of people from one country who will attend the World Cup.

Once more, the fact that you and I, State Secretary - within seven months of meeting in Pretoria - could advance so fast to meet here today to sign this MOU is a major accomplishment signifying that relations between our countries are securely on a different path of being materially strengthened and for this I am immensely grateful to you.

In Xhosa to you, State Secretary, I say, Ungadinwa Nangomso.

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