Remarks by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the occasion of a Working Visit to the Republic of Mali, Bamako, 22 June 2011

Your Excellency, Honourable M. Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of the Republic of Mali;
Our Ambassadors from South Africa and Mali;
Senior Officials;

At the outset, let me take this opportunity to thank the government of Mali for extending this kind invitation to us. My delegation and I are truly grateful, and indeed appreciative of this very kind gesture.

This is my first visit to Mali as Minister responsible for International Relations and Cooperation.  I am well aware that much has been done in promoting bilateral relations between South Africa and Mali. Accordingly, I am constantly energised and motivated by the various reports and briefings I have received from my colleagues on what has been done thus far. I must say without any shadow of doubt that these reports are indeed reflective of our commitment and common vision in working together. This is to me an embodiment of what the two countries truly stand for – creating a better tomorrow for our people – and by extension creating a better, safer and prosperous Africa.

Accordingly, I would like to take this opportunity to express my country’s unparalleled support for Mali’s developmental aspirations – because your developmental aspirations are inextricably linked to ours. 

In support of promoting our Pan-African heritage and unity, and indeed as a highlight of the cordial relations, and strong ties between our two countries, we created the first Cultural Programme for NEPAD known as the South Africa-Mali Timbuktu Manuscript Project.
The achievements of this project are well known to all of us and are indeed in the record books of the history of the good relations between our two countries like the very manuscripts that this project was intended to preserve.

In 2002, we stood in unison with your country when you hosted the African Cup of Nations Tournament. This was an important moment that put the whole of Africa on the world map. In fact, it was the undying spirit of the Malians that inspired our hosting of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.

Dear colleague

Our two governments will continue to engage each other and exchange views on improving delivery of essential health services to our respective peoples. South Africa hopes that this mutual commitment will find expression as soon as we conclude the proposed draft bilateral health agreement. We have consciously committed to advance this cause in the spirit of the South-South Health Care Delivery Programme (SSHDP) agreed upon during the G77 Summit of 2000 in Havana. 

Our two countries are committed to focus our attention on increasing economic relations by deepening cooperation in the fields such as mining and mineral beneficiation through institutional partnerships, and supporting each other in broadening our economic engagement, (amongst others).In this respect, as you may be aware Your Excellency,

South African Embassy in Bamako has recently facilitated   a successful Investment workshop in conjunction with the Malian Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Let me take this opportunity to express our satisfaction at the manner in which our trade relations have matured over the years, but at the same time acknowledge that it could be better. The existing framework for the joint cooperation between South Africa and Mali should be used as a vehicle within which we could further improve our relations.

Our presence here today must be seen within the context of committing ourselves, and pledging our unparalleled support in taking our relations to the next level. This should include encouraging regular consultations between our two countries on regional and global issues, including those of the AU and UN.

I am hopeful that out of this meeting we will agree on modalities to inject more energy into our Joint Commission of Cooperation. We are also counting on Malian support when we host COP17/CMP7 later this year. We value your role as chair of AMCEN.

I wish to conclude by extending our gratitude, as the South African delegation, to the people and the Government of the Republic of Mali for the hospitality accorded to us and for the excellent arrangements made for this meeting.  I look forward to fruitful engagement between our two delegations.

I thank you.

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