Remarks by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, at the Media Briefing following the Inaugural Session of the South Africa-Niger Joint Commission of Cooperation, 23 October 2013

Your Excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, African Integration and Nigeriens Living Abroad of the Republic of Niger, Honourable Minister Bazoum,
Ladies and gentlemen from the media,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you and your delegation today for the Inaugural Session of our Joint Commission of Cooperation. This Inaugural Session is aimed at deepening relations between South Africa and the Republic of Niger.

Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Minister for having travelled to South Africa to Co-Chair this Inaugural Session of the Joint Commission of Cooperation with me. 

It was only last October that the first officials from Niger arrived to open the new Embassy, and now, within a year, we are very happy that we could finally inaugurate the JCC.  It is very clear that both our countries are determined to foster closer bilateral links.

You will agree with me when I say that it is important that our two countries intensify relations in a variety of sectors that could create the impetus for development on our Continent. In our attempts at eradicating poverty and creating equal and just societies, it is important that we make rigorous efforts to ensure sustainable development and the flourishing of our bilateral relationship.

We received the reports from the Co-Chairs of the Senior Officials Meeting, and, whilst our countries are separated by a great distance, we established that we do share many common interests, including the fact that both South Africa and Niger are dry countries. Water is our life-line but we also need to discuss the impact of climate change on fragile eco-systems such as ours.

It is clear that a substantial amount of work has been done and I wish to thank the officials for their persistence and hard work. The report-back session indicated that South Africa and Niger have now established the necessary foundation for increased, accelerated and deepened bilateral cooperation programmes. The fact that the delegations have developed Action Plans and assigned responsibilities for the implementation of the Plans demonstrates a seriousness to achieve the objectives established for the Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC).

I am particularly pleased that we were able to evaluate progress on cooperation on an issue of vital importance to our continent, namely cooperation on the sustainable exploration of strategic minerals, such as for example uranium, to ensure maximum benefit to our respective populations. Both our envisaged bilateral cooperation on mining and geology, as well as cooperation with other countries on the Continent that possess these minerals, are clear signals of joint purpose of mind! We are delighted that these and other issues of mutual interest are beginning to receive the attention they deserve!

This session of the JCC was a success and has laid the appropriate and necessary groundwork for the achievement of our objectives and the framework for our co-operation over the coming years.

I thank you.

For further information, please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on +27 82 884 5974

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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