Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Her Excellency Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the Joint Press Conference following the conclusion of the Bilateral Meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, His Excellency Mohamed Ould Salek, Pretoria, 27 June 2013

Ladies and gentlemen of the media,

Today we had the pleasure of hosting His Excellency Mohamed Ould Salek, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. We had extensive discussions on both bilateral and multilateral issues.

We recalled the historic relations that exist between our two countries and peoples that were forged during our common liberation struggles against colonial oppression.

We reaffirmed our common view that the issue of Western Sahara remains a question of decolonization and the inalienable right of people to self-determination in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

We noted with concern the deteriorating human rights situation in the Western Sahara occupied territories where gross atrocities have been committed against the Saharawi human rights activists and prisoners of conscience by the Moroccan occupying security forces. As such, we reiterated our call that the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) be expanded to incorporate a human rights monitoring mechanism.

In addition, we deplored the continued illegal exploitation of mineral resources in the Western Sahara occupied territories which is not permitted by international law given that Western Sahara has the status of Non-Self-Governing Territory as per Chapter 11 of the UN Charter.

We agreed on the need to increase the humanitarian support to the Saharawi refugees who continue to live in the harsh desert conditions due to the non-resolution of the conflict. The current difficult security situation in Sahel Region may also have a negative impact on the Western Sahara and there is a need to urgently convene a referendum to allow Saharawi’s to choose their destiny.

Concerning our bilateral relations, we concluded the signing of three agreements, namely, the Memorandum of Understanding on Diplomatic Consultations; the Memorandum of Understanding on a Financial Contribution toward the Construction of a Youth Sport Development Complex and the Memorandum of Understanding on a Financial Contribution towards the Humanitarian Landmine Assistance Programme.

We are proud that that the signing of these agreements will further solidify the strong relations that already exist between South Africa and the Western Sahara.

May I now take this opportunity to invite my colleague, Minister Salek to address you.

Thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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