Department of International Relations and Cooperation Media Briefing by the Director General, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, at the O R Tambo Building, Pretoria,
2010-08-05 at 12h30
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: Let me start with the state visit to Russia. As you know, the President arrived in Russia this morning (05.07.2010). As you know, it is the first visit by President Zuma as the President of South Africa. The last visit was by President Putin to South Africa in 2006.
Our relations with Russia are good, and, off course, Russia is a very important country. It is a permanent member of the Security Council, it is a member of the G8, it is a member of the G20 and it is a member of BRIC, and I think it is fair to say that what we have seen in the past few years is a reassertion by Russia of its place in global affairs.
So it is a very important visit therefore for South Africa. But also, Russia, in the form of the previous Soviet Union, has a long relationship of supporting South Africa and other countries in our region, the former liberation movement.
During President Putin's visit in 2006, one of the highlights was the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Partnership, which essentially was a legal expression of the South Africa-Russia Strategic Partnership. Before that we had an Intergovernmental and Economic Committee, ITEC, which is chaired by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and on the other side is Yuriy Trutnev, the Minister of Natural Resources. It is a committee that has been in existence from around 1999 and it existed at the time of the signing of the Treaty or Friendship. So, the Treaty of Friendship was supposed to be, in a sense, take what started essentially as economic cooperation, as a committee looking at economic cooperation between our countries, and give it a far broader sense.
Currently we have about four committees that exist with Russia. There is the ITEC that I have referred to. There is one on science and technology. There is one on defense and military cooperation and there is one on energy. With the exception of the one on defense, the other two on science and technology and energy sometimes are monitored on a regular basis through ITEC.
As you know, President Zuma is accompanied by a significant number of ministers. On Monday and Tuesday, the 2nd and 3rd , there was a sitting of ITEC and the report coming from that is what will be presented to the meeting that is probably ongoing now in Moscow between President Zuma and President Medvedev.
The President will also meet Prime Minister Putin. There are four agreements that will be signed, or three certainty, there may be a fourth one, and the three that are certain are on the waiver of visas for diplomatic and official passport holders, there is one on plant quarantine, which is aimed at facilitating trade of agricultural products, and there is also an agreement on science and technology.
The visit was initially going to be in, the state visit element, was initially going to be in Sochi and then the business seminar was going to be in Moscow, and then about two days ago everything was shifted to Moscow. It is linked to the current national issues that are taking place in Russia. So, all the meetings now, ITEC took place in Moscow, the state visit, which is today and tomorrow, and also starting today and tomorrow is also the business interaction, and all of these activities are taking place in Moscow.
Maybe the last point I would like to say about this visit to Moscow is that I think South Africa has taken a very conscious decision to step up its relations with Russia and we see Russia, first of all, as a rising economic power. Secondly, we believe that South Africa can benefit significantly from the scientific and technological advances that Russia has made over time, and those can be utilized for purposes of benefiting our own economy.
We are looking also, not only at the further opening up of trade, but we are also looking at other issues like tourism, and one of the discussions that will be taking place, it won't be concluded now, is on the aviation side. There are discussions that have been started about perhaps starting daily flights or regular flights between Moscow and Johannesburg.
Currently the major area of involvement of the Russian and the South African economy is much more on the energy and also on the mining side. There is also another logical reason why South Africa should work very closely with Russia and this has to do with the fact that on quite significant or important mineral resources, Russia and South Africa, in combination, disproportionately have the bulk of global deposits. And one such example will, of course, be platinum.
Now, the second issue that I would like to talk about, maybe on some scheduled visits. Let me start and say that, but we will give some more details on this one next week, the President will be visiting Lesotho. On the 12th and 13th there will be a state visit to Lesotho. And also just to say that there is also going to be a SADC Summit, which is in Namibia. As you know, Namibia will take over as the chair of the SADC. The Summit is on the 16th and 17th of August. The Ministerial Meeting is on the 14th and 15th and that will be preceded by a meeting of officials.
As we speak, some of our Ministers and Deputy Ministers are in Maputo for a meeting of the Organ of SADC, and of course, the discussions of the Organ, and which will obviously reflect on the ongoing areas of focus by the Organ particularly, the state of readiness of the SADC Brigade; the issues of peace and security in the region; the issues of Zimbabwe; the issues of Madagascar; and then also some of the turbulence that was there in Lesotho, just to look at how far the process that used to be led by former President Masire has gone in Lesotho.
After the SADC Summit, the President will then have a state visit to China. And again, in the visit to China there will be three legs to the visit. There will be a visit to Beijing. There will be a big business delegation. There will also be a visit to Shanghai, which is more linked to business, and then the president will also visit the South African stand at the Shanghai Expo. So, that visit will be from the 24th to the 26th of August.
Now, if I may then move to the African Union Summit that has been recently concluded. As you know, the theme was “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa”. The President was supported by Minister Motsoaledi. Nothing that would be too outstanding, except for the commitments that were made, and those commitments would really be related to how Africa can move with greater speed towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals' targets.
In the case of South Africa, and you will know that also maternal and child health is an area that is receiving priority. We know that our maternal and child health indicators are not where we want them to be, which is why the government has decided to prioritise attention on this area. So, this meeting and this particular theme of the AU I must say was a theme that was very relevant to the urgent challenges that South Africa is facing.
During the AU, also, there was an endorsement of South Africa by the Continent, South Africa's bid to host the square kilometer array (SKA), and as you know, we are moving towards the final stages of this process now.
There was also an input that was made by the President of Mexico as the next host of COP16. Now, the important thing was that it was far much more of an update of Mexico's expectations. It afforded our Heads of State also an opportunity to reaffirm the current common African position, but two things were important with respect to South Africa. The first one is that there has been a committee of 10 led by Prime Minister Zenawi which is the committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, which really was agreed to be the main body that articulates and represents the Continent in these negotiations.
Now South Africa has not necessarily, strictly speaking, been a member of that, but we were a member only because we were Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Environment. But a decision has been taken by the AU that, for a number of reasons, South Africa should become a member of this Committee. And amongst those reasons would be the fact that we will be the next host on the Conference of Parties on Climate Change, COP17, in 2011. Secondly, increasing the issues of climate change, because of their intersection with issues of the economy, are featuring prominently in the discussions of the G20, and South Africa, of course, is the only African country currently that sits on the G20. And of course, for reasons well-known and which might not be positive as a significant [unclear] in the Continent, and so I think there was an acknowledgment that South Africa has a locked that it can contribute to the articulation of the African position and we think that this is a very important development for us.
We presented timeframes for the hosting of the African Diaspora Summit, which have been accepted by the AU. Essentially that we will have a Ministerial Consultation next year and the Summit on the African Diaspora will be held in 2012.
I deliberately did not want to start by indicating how strongly the African Heads of State expressed their pride in the achievements of South Africa with respect to the 2010 events. And I must say that there was unanimity in the view that the way that South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup restored lots of the African pride and secondly, contributed dealing with the issue of African pessimism. But, of course, president Zuma also thanked to the Heads of State and the African countries, generally, for their support and really for the way that the Continent treated this as its own, essentially.
Now, there was a discussion that took place there which related specifically to the issue of the request by the ICC to open a liaison office in Addis Ababa, which was not finalised. And the Assembly decided to defer the consideration of this request and the aim was to afford member states just time to consider additional information that they requested from the ICC, particularly because this would be a body, or an office, that would aim at interfacing with the AU and bearing in mind that the African Union is composed of both signatory and non-signatory members to the Rome Statute. So, this issue will come back again for further discussion.
As you would expect, on the peace and security side, there was a dominance of the issue in Somalia. Firstly, because of the tragic events that had taken place in Uganda on the 11th of July, but also, more importantly I think those events helped, or rather served to highlight how important it is for the African Union to work with the people of Somalia to bring some sense of stability in Somalia. You are familiar with the decisions that were taken, which are essentially around beefing up the peacekeeping mission and the figure of 8,000 has been spoken about. And of course, some people spoke that, at the end of the day to do the job completely, would need the forces to go up to levels of 20,000. That figure was also bandied around.
This is a discussion that took place both at the level of the Summit and also side meetings. There was one in particular that was hosted by the Americans led by Johnny Carson, which had a number of countries participating, including South Africa. But all those were far much more meetings for purposes of information exchange and not so much for taking the decisions. The decisions were to be taken by Summit. I think that there is also concern that as much as we deal with the insurgency and the growing confidence of insurgents in Somalia, that we also do not lose sight of the fact that the ultimate solution will have to be anchored around a political settlement. And therefore, a lot of people kept on a resuscitation of the political track with respect to this.
One of the important development which was adopted by the Summit related to NEPAD. As you know, we reported previously that in the January Summit, there was the establishment of the Agency, the NEPAD Agency, which is based here to replace the NEPAD Secretariat based here in South Africa. Then there was a decision also taken in January of the speeding-up of the process of the integration of NEPAD into the AU Commission.
So, there was a progress report that was presented with respect to that. And generally Heads of State were very happy with the progress that had been registered. I must say there was also a strong sense that the new CEO of the NEPAD Agency seems to have reinvigorated some significant life to NEPAD and therefore there was an air of optimism about what NEPAD can still achieve.
One of the important interventions during the discussion on NEPAD was an intervention made by President Zuma. Essentially, it was a proposal to the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee initially, which is a group of twenty Heads of State who oversee NEPAD, about really greater focus on the capacity constraints to Africa's industrialisation and particularly looking at the issue of infrastructure as that key issue that should be used to unlock this. After the intervention with a complete proposal by President Zuma, which proposal was around the establishment of a subcommittee of the Heads of State that will specifically focus on priority infrastructure programs in the Continent and prioritise that and drive that with vigour. Secondly, a proposal that said that one of the things that we can do, or Heads of State can do, to support the NEPAD Agency is for individual Heads of State to champion specific projects.
For example, if there is a road network on the Continent, cross-country road and inter-regional road network, if South Africa, for example, the President of South Africa champions that, then it becomes the responsibility of the President of South Africa to work and support the Head of the NEPAD Agency to make sure that if there is an interface with the donors or with cooperating partners, or if there are things that need to be cleared politically, then that Head of State is available on behalf of the Continent to assist with this.
And I must say, this particular proposal was well received, both by the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee, as well as to when it was formerly tabled at the Summit. The consequence of that was that South Africa was then asked to chair this committee and other members of the committee are Algeria, Benin, Rwanda, Egypt and Senegal. In fact, the first task that the President of South Africa should do is to convene a meeting of Ministers from these countries that would absolutely work together with the NEPAD Secretariat, flash out this proposal in greater detail, as well as making concrete recommendations about which sector is going to be championed by which Head of State for final ratification by the Heads of State. And I must say that we are particularly keen on this issue around this infrastructure program.
Maybe also to just indicate that even though there may be a bit of a discussion on this during the SADC, but just to say that we are following the events as they unfold in Zimbabwe. I must say that we are encouraged by the mid-term budget review that was presented by Finance Minister Biti on the 14th of July this year with the projection of a 5.4% growth in the Zimbabwean economy. But, more importantly, the fact that in the first quarter of this year the revenue collection exceeded the target that was set by about US$100 million and I think this begins to point in the right direction with respect to what is happening in Zimbabwe. We are also encouraged by the fact that the process of engaging the populace with respect to the constitution has started and, as you know, the second phase of the outreach programme, was in the week of the 19th to the 23rd of July.
We continue, as we have indicated, to look at the functioning of the agencies, entities that were created, the Electoral Commission, the Human Rights Commission and Media Commission in particular. Guided by what we have already said before, which is really that, to us, our focus is really to keep the Unity Government doing what it is doing and doing it even better, and then working steadily towards the adoption of a new constitution as a framework to guide the next round of elections. Hopefully that would be on a plank that would be far much more credible and therefore be acceptable to the international community.
I also thought that I should just mention in passing that we are also following very closely the issue which relates to the Kimberley Process and the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe. As you know, there was a meeting that was in Tel Aviv, which could not resolve the issues. That was on the 22nd to the 24th of June 2010. But, I must say that we have been encouraged by the latest discussions following the World Diamond Council, the 7th Annual Meeting, which was in St Petersburg on the 15th of July, which has given some sort of, brought about some meetings of minds between the government of Zimbabwe and the other parties with respect to the exploitation of the diamonds from the Marange diamond fields of Zimbabwe.
South Africa is working very closely with Zimbabwe on this issue. Of course, as members and founder members of the Kimberley Process, we have got an interest and so it is an issue that we will continue to follow very closely.
Now, I think that is as far as I would wish to go for now and would be ready to take any questions that you might have.
Question and Answers Session:
Peter Fabricius, Member of the Media: Can you confirm reports that we have recalled the (South African) Ambassador to Rwanda?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba: Yes, we have indeed recalled our Ambassador to Rwanda for consultation. And let me be categorical, we have not broken diplomatic relations with Rwanda. No misunderstanding on that. And we have just recalled our Ambassador for consultation.
Jean Jaques Cornish, Radio 702, Member of the Media: Would it be right to interpret that as an indication of any form of disapproval with what has been happening? Is this a positive or a negative development?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba: No. We are having some discussions with the government of Rwanda. Of course, all of us are just trying to understand better how we can work on our relations because, quite clearly, I think it would be fair to say that the presence of some Rwandese people in South Africa has had an impact on those relations. And again, let me be categorical, because I don't want to be misquoted again. We are not making any connection by recalling our Ambassador for consultation, not making any connection whatsoever between the government of Rwanda and the specific incident around the General who is in South Africa.
But clearly the presence of the individuals here has raised the temperature. Those of you who follow also the British media would see that one of the people who are here in South Africa is quoted extensively as having made statements to the British media about how he believes that Rwanda is not in safe hands under President Kagame and whatever else he said. So, quite clearly, these are very difficult issues. And so, we were really recalling our Ambassador largely for us to better understand, to exchange views with him, to get to better understand what action South Africa can then take to try and work on these relations with Rwanda. So, that is where we are.
E-News, Africa, Member of the Media: Still on Rwanda. What about what is happening on the ground in Rwanda? What are your comments on the recent alleged extra-judicial killings in Rwanda?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba: No. Our Ambassador would have come back yesterday, if I am not mistaken, or the day before. But I have not had the opportunity for a complete debrief of our Ambassador. We have read in the media the concerns about some activities that are taking place in Rwanda, arrests, murder of individuals. We obviously are following that. We pretend, we can't claim to be experts or to be in the know as to what is true in what has been reported. And so, part of recalling our Ambassador is because we want to make use of the fact that he is on the ground, to better understand how we should relate to the circumstances. Quite clearly, as we head for August 9th, for the elections, there is going to be major issues. Of course, some of the media reports are already raising issues about the credibility of those elections. And these are all issues that we need to understand. But as it is now, I don't think we want to get into the area of speculation about the details of some of the issues.
Metzov, Itar-Tass News Agency, Member of the Media: I would like to ask two questions. The first one is regarding the visit of President Zuma to Moscow. In the Russian media there are reports that one of the items on the agenda is the Iranian nuclear programme, no, no, Iranian issues. Can you confirm that, and if yes, elaborate and can you also say what is actually the South African standpoint on the Iranian nuclear programme issue? And the second one is, can you comment on the reports in the South African media about the possible South African contribution to the African Union peacekeeping forces in Somalia? Thank you.
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba: Well, with respect to South Africa's position with respect to the (Nuclear) programme, I think our position has not changed. Essentially we, as signatory countries to the NPT, we have argued consistently in the Board that the provisions, the three pillars of the NPT should all be looked at in a balanced way. And if you look at them in a balanced way, you would also recognise that one of the important elements is the right that countries must have to exploit the atom for peaceful purposes. So we have argued consistently that, to the extent that the Iranian programme would be driven in the direction of peaceful use, that all that is needed is for Iran to be subjected to the standard safeguards which are exercised through the International Atomic Energy Agency and that there would be nothing wrong and nobody should stand in the way of Iran to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
There has, of course, been a debate around whether in fact that programme that Iran is building goes beyond that and that it might lead to nuclear weaponisation. Now, South Africa has got, again, a clear view on that. We do not believe that any country should have nuclear weapons. And so we argue, in fact, not only for the that countries that don't have must not have, but we also go a step further to say those who have must work on a systematic process of dismantling their nuclear arsenals. So, our position is very clear on that.
We also have been very clear that we believe that the legitimate body to make final determinations as to whether Iran has crossed the line or is within its rights in terms of its nuclear programme, that body must be the IAEA, and South Africa would wish to always be guided by that. But we have also said that our view is also that Iran must accept that it has some responsibility to build the confidence of the international community. Because it is a matter of historical fact that there is a part, that there is a period of time when Iran did not play open cards with the international community. So, that has been our position, and so our position is anchored on those principles.
Now, indeed, I would be surprised that the issue of nuclear, of Iran would arise. I think it is a major issue for the permanent members of the Security Council. It is a major issue for the global community. And so, I would not be surprised if it comes out (during discussions between President Zuma and President Medvedev). But I suspect it will probably come from the angle of the Russians as permanent members of the Security Council, who have been engaging and who have interrogated the latest Brazil-Turkey proposals and took a particular decision about those proposals. Probably they will be enlightening South Africa about the way that they are looking at the issue now. So, we suspect that it would be more in that direction. We don't expect that there would be any specific decision that will be expected from South Africa at this point in time.
With respect to the issue of Somalia, this is a very difficult issue. And really, I would like to appeal that whatever I am going to say be dealt with in the manner I say it, because I have seen two different reports, and thankfully they are not attached to this Department.
Basically I have said that in Uganda (during the AU Summit) there were a lot of discussions on Somalia. Now, we knew this discussion is going to come up and so, we, ourselves, participated in a lot of discussions. For example, the Minister, myself and other colleagues participated in side meeting that were organized by Johnny Carson, which were information sharing. Now, of course, in the information sharing, people make all sorts of statements, but this is a group of countries, about ten or eleven, including other partners active in Somalia, like the EU and so on. So, any comment that would have been made there about how people might wish that South Africa must contribute is actually a discussion in a side meeting. It is not a formal approach of the Republic of South Africa. So that is the first thing.
So we participated in a lot of such discussions. In a lot of bilateral discussions that we participated in, we had bilateral discussions with Uganda, we had bilateral discussions with Kenya, and these are countries at the frontline. And so, necessarily, they would raise the issue of Somalia amongst the issues to discuss. They would also talk about what they think needs to be done. And there are many areas of need to be looked at in Somalia. There is the element of supporting the process by contributing troops on the ground. There is the element of supporting by assisting with the management of the pirates on the sea. There is the issue of assisting by making sure that the troops that are on the ground are actually adequately supported. Because one of the things that have been coming out consistently is that even countries that want to contribute more troops, for example, but even some of the countries that are contributing troops are ready to contribute more. But there has been the problem of the security and the predictably of the support that is given in terms of the salaries to the soldiers, in terms of equipment and things like that.
So there is also a lot of support that is needed in the form of equipment and in the form of money. Then, of course, there is also support that is needed in Somalia to resuscitate, reinvigorate the political process. So, in the discussions that we have been having, there has been this broad menu of possible areas of intervention. And let me say that it is true that the different groups that we would meet would have their own views about what they think South Africa should contribute. So you would have some people who would say to us, no, we really don't believe South Africa should contribute troops, because we can mobilise troops, but maybe South Africa should assist on the marine side. Then there are some people who are saying, maybe South Africa, yes on the marine side, but can't you help also with training, can't you help with other things. So, it is that menu of things that are out there now.
What we then decided is on the basis, and I think it would be fair to stress that there was this expectation; there is this expectation that South Africa should be able to find one of these areas and contribute to that. And I think that is what South Africa is now considering. But there is no decision and I am unaware also of any specific request that is categorical now that says South Africa, of this entire menu, we think the only thing that you should do is to contribute the troops on the ground.
Now, that is why I am explaining and giving all these options. So, when South Africa is considering what form to support in Somalia, while looking at this menu of things, and I think in the next few days or so, we will be having consultations. I saw some reports in the Business Day. I am unaware of any proposal that has already been given to the South African Head of State. I am aware that we are all considering, in this menu of possible proposals, what it is what South Africa should actually do.
Citizen Newspaper, Member of the Media: My interest is in Zimbabwe. You said you are (or South Africa) is encouraged by the midterm budget. I just want to find out, I mean, this revenue collected, is it a $100 million Zim or US dollars? And another thing, I want to find out if South Africa is still involved with the mediation process and I also want to find out if everything is fine with President Mugabe and the Prime Minister? If their relationship, I mean, is healthy?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba: Well, I think the Prime Minister and the President occasionally have their own differences. I don't think that's unnatural. But I think on the key landmark issues, for example during the commencement of the constitution making process, I think we saw all of them, all the parties to the peace agreement standing together and speaking with one voice. I can tell you for sure that all of them want the Unity Government to stay.
With respect to the revenue, no, we are talking about millions of US dollars. Generally, what the Minister of Finance of Zimbabwe had estimated that in the first quarter of the financial year that Zimbabwe would only be able to collect about US$217 million. It is roughly around a hundred or so million of US dollars in revenue. And of course, the figure that they collected was about US$411million. And we know that there continues even now to be an improvement in terms of their revenue.
It is also that reason that we have been anxious that all the other elements that are necessary to help Zimbabwe to speed up the process of economic reconstruction, should be supported, provided of course they adhere to whatever obligations that they have. And given the fact that there was general agreement in the Kimberley Process, that they have met what was put on in terms of the implementation plan. That is why; again, we have been very supportive that the Kimberley Process must work together with Zimbabwe moving forward so that, indeed, they can use the resources that are available to Zimbabwe to help speed up the process of economic reconstruction. So, that would be my response to that.
Member of the Media: I just want to know, after the AU called on members who are the statutory signatories to ignore the arrest warrant against President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, I just like to know what is South Africa's stand on that, because previously it was clear that you would comply with the ICC.
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba: No, I think there was a discussion around the ignoring part, but I don't think there was a consensus that that would be the ultimate formulation of the decision.
Member of the Media: Just to go back to the AU Summit and something on a different matter. Was there any discussion on local governments, provincial governments, in terms of some of the infrastructure developments and implementation, in terms of strengthening them? I know there is a summit in Mexico City, the United Cities and Local Government Association Summit, and I believe also the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry [unclear] to China on local or cities or something to that effect. Was there any discussion on that?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba: Not that I am aware of. Certainly not in the formal session, but what did happen also, there was a side meeting by a group that deals with infrastructure in the Continent. And there was a lot of prominence given really to the role of the local levels, sub-regional and regional levels within countries in the implementation really of the infrastructure programme. And there were a number of examples that were shared about success stories and where, in fact, the use of other sub-regional levels of government and local government in particular, has proven useful. But it was not something that directly fed into Summit and therefore concrete decisions on Summit.
Peter Fabricius, Member of the Media: I just want to be clarified on the recall of the High Commissioner. When the government decided to recall Ismail Coovadia, it stated then that the recall of the Ambassador for consultations is the strongest form of diplomatic protest. And, I mean, does that language, does that formulation still apply here? May we read into this as a strong form of protest? And secondly, if I could ask, can you update us on what's happened with the General in terms of asylum versus extradition and extradition, you know, Rwanda versus France and Spain etcetera, whether that process has come to any resolution? Please?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba: Peter, as I said, you know, when we recalled our Ambassador we don’t just want to depend on briefs that the Ambassador is going to send us. Indeed there are some concerns that we have, that is what I was referring to. We have also taken a decision that we don't want to wage our disagreements and differences with Rwanda largely through the media. But I must say, some of the statements that have been quoted extensively as emanating from the government in Kigali, we have not regarded as statements that we would just receive and keep quiet on. And so, indeed, I think it will be fair to say that there is some turbulence that we need to manage together with Rwanda.
But again, this is far much more around us dealing with a set, not a single issue, but a set of complex issues that we are trying to deal with. I think for now, Peter allow me not to go into too much detail on that. I can only confirm that we also made attempts whilst we were in Uganda to have bilateral consultations at the ministerial level with Rwanda, so to try to work out and see what it is that we can do to improve the relations. But that is as far as I can go for now. But I think I would be dishonest if I created the impression that our Ambassador, being in South Africa, is like the Ambassador will be taking a holiday and has come to South Africa. It would not be honest for me to say that. But nothing, nevertheless, we believe is outside us being able to manage in a responsible way.
On the issue of the general, you're putting me in difficulties on this, because I am sure you know that I don't mind you dealing with, hear from whatever leaks you get it from, but I am really, really anxious not to start getting into the detail on the specific issues around the General. Honestly, I am, if you forgive me on that, on this I am going to not get into that, because I don't believe it helps the situation presently. We know he is still here. We obviously are concerned about his security and therefore would be keeping a close eye on the security now that he is out of hospital. And all I can say is that of course the investigation has not been concluded and I think the rest of everything else, we will come to when we have tied every part of this together.
Jean Jaques Cornish, Radio 702, Member of the Media: Could you tell us about the bilateral consultations currently in progress with the Sudanese government, with the Under-Secretary? Has our position on the ICC affected our bilateral relations? How would we characterise those relations with Sudan? And, you know, if you could tell us about those consultations, the bilateral consultations currently under way?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba: The very fact that my counterpart from Sudan is here, and he has not brought a protest note from Sudan, and we had planned this consultation, in fact, we had hoped that we are going to have these consultations before the AU Summit. We had been anxious to inaugurate political consultations that we had agreed upon some time back, but we never had the opportunity to actually kick them off. So we did this time. I think we are, both sides convinced that our relations are on solid foundation. So the discussions actually have been extremely cordial. So, they have briefed us very fully on how they are reading the situation that is going on in the Sudan, their hopes, their fears, their concerns, in what way they believe South Africa can be of assistance. They of course know that South Africa was part of the AU Observer Mission. They of course know that Minister Collins Chabane went to the inauguration of President al-Bashir. And therefore they would know that South Africa has got no difficulty whatsoever with the level of respect that we would have for the Sudanese Head of State.
So, now, of course it is a very difficult situation, the issue around the ICC and obviously it would have featured in our discussions, but I think it featured in a very constructive manner, in a manner where South Africa reassured Sudan, and I can say that very categorically, that South Africa wants to be a friend of the Sudan and South Africa wants to work well with the Sudan. And whatever differences and difficulties we might have on one or the other issue, these are issues that we will handle with great responsibility, with great respect, bearing in mind that the purpose of our entire engagement in Sudan, we have troops, we have got our former President in Sudan, we are the chair of the AU Committee on the post-conflict and reconstruction of the Sudan.
Now, we would not have that level of engagement in the Sudan, if we did not have an interest in a successful solution into the problems that Sudan faces there. So, in fact, I think that was the general tone of the discussions. And equally on the Sudanese side, I think the dominant view is a strong appreciation and respect for South Africa. They might not agree with the way that we handle some things, but nevertheless I think there is a keenness on the side of the Sudan for us to manage the points of differences, and we completely agree with them on that, manage with great sensitivity in a manner that the way we deal with that does not have the unintended effect of overall disruption of the relations that we have.
So, that is really it. So, the visit has been good and I know that they will be meeting a number of people in South Africa. And I think, my impression is that so far they found the different meetings that they have participated in extremely useful. So it was really, really and sincerely a very cordial meeting and a very constructive meeting that we had with them.
Programme Director: Thank you very much DG and many thanks to members of the Media
Issued by the Public Diplomacy Branch
OR Tambo Building
Private Bag X 152
August 6, 2010