Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Tshwane, South Africa, Tuesday, 4 July 2006

Sudan

  • I briefed you last week regarding the blue-hatting of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS).
  • With regard to this matter, Secretary-General Kofi Annan had extensive discussions with Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir on the fringes of the AU Summit in Banjul. As you know, the Secretary-General has said that "Darfur is one of the worst nightmares to be experienced in the modern world."
  • According to a Peace and Security Council decision, the mandate of AMIS would expire at the end of September 2006 because of lack of adequate resources.
  • However, the Secretary-General has requested flexibility from the African Union leaders in this regard since there has been no agreement by the Sudanese government on the transfer of the AMIS force to a UN force and as you know, a UN force cannot operate in a country until there is agreement from the leadership of that country.
  • The Secretary-General who has already had extensive discussions with President Bashir on this matter will continue to discuss it with him to get his agreement.
  • The Secretary-General will receive a plan for Darfur from President Bashir for the next six months within three weeks.
  • The Secretary-General has also mentioned there will be a pledging conference in Brussels on the 18 July 2006 where he hopes resources will be pledged to enable AMIS to continue its mission for longer, ie December when the UN will be able to take over if the Sudanese government agrees.
  • Former President and Chair of the African Union Commission Alpha Konare has again urged the parties who signed the 5 May 2006 agreement to implement this agreement and urged those who have not signed to do so.
  • We continue to support the blue-hatting of the AMIS and hope an agreement in this regard will be reached soon.

Zimbabwe

  • Last week we discussed the possibility of a meeting between President Mugabe and the UN Secretary-General on the fringes of the African Union Summit. As you know, this meeting has now taken place.
  • The Secretary-General has announced that former President Benjamin Mkapa will, in consultation with SADC, continue to mediate for a political solution in Zimbabwe.
  • The Secretary-General has said there is no need for two facilitators to this situation.
  • The Secretary-General has also asked for time and space to allow former President Mkapa to do his work.

Côte d'Ivoire

  • Electioneering in Côte d'Ivoire is fully underway.
  • On the DDR process the two Chiefs of Staff are in continuous consultation.
  • The problem of the National Assembly has now been resolved. It will function to support the work of the Prime Minister.
  • Some parties feel that since the DDR process has not been fully implemented that elections will be delayed. However, it is important that we continue to work towards fulfilling this deadline and the situation can be re-evaluated closer to the time in consultation with all parties.
  • The United Nations Secretary-General has indicated that a short delay may be necessary and will have discussions in Côte d'Ivoire tomorrow to assess matters.

The Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Although there were protests last week, the process towards elections is underway.
  • The 128-member South African observer mission will now be deployed in the DRC from 19 July - 15 August. This is a 26-day period during which they cover the campaigning, voting and counting phases.
  • The South African observer team will be deployed in 24 rather than the 64 originally muted centres. The 24 centres are in all the 11 provinces and provide reasonable cover through the DRC territory.
  • Secretariat will be deployed on 14 and 16 July 2006 to be on the ground before the observers arrive.
  • All medical and other logistical arrangements for the team are in place.
  • The South African observer team will participate in a workshop before they can be deployed.
  • We can also confirm that all ballot papers have been delivered with exception of the four centres in Kinshasa.
  • Last week I reported that the DRC government has requested 128 specialists in various IT competencies. Since the IEC could not provide this, an appeal was made to the private sector who have responded by volunteering the personnel. Telkom, SAP, Dell, Cisco, Vodacom, Sentech, Accenture, Didata, IBM, Cell-C and Sahara have responded to the request. This is an instance where the private sector has come on board to assist us very positively.
  • The Security Council on Friday 30 June 2006 extended the mandate of the strengthened peacekeeping force till 30 September 2006. This mission in the DRC represents the largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation by the United Nations. The MONUC operation consists of 18 000 uniformed personnel.
  • There has been a call for calm, free and secure voting for all participants and access to the media. In addition, there has been a request for all parties to refrain from hate speech.

Middle East

  • I last week warned that we were moving into a very dangerous phase in the Middle East.
  • Indeed, not three days after this, Israeli artillery and tanks moved into the Gaza and air strikes began. This exacerbated an already volatile situation.
  • The destruction of the offices of the Prime Minister, the arrests of Cabinet ministers, members of the legislative and the destruction of vital infrastructure is not conducive to finding a solution to the current crisis. Indeed the dire humanitarian situation is only being intensified.
  • The deadline put by the Palestinian groups for the release of Palestinian prisoners, in exchange for the Israeli soldier, expired today.
  • Both the Palestinian President and Prime Minister had committed themselves to seeking the release of the Israeli soldier.
  • The move into Gaza happened at a time when the international community, including South Africa, were seized with and intensifying their attempts to encourage the Palestinians to release the captured Israeli soldier.
  • This Israeli action also came hours after all the Palestinians had accepted a plan produced by all sections of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. This opened up real possibilities of a negotiated solution based on a two-state solution.
  • International reactions to these developments indicate that we have entered a very dangerous situation that threatens international peace and security.
  • This, inter alia, includes:
  • Statements by many countries expressing and condemning the military response;
  • The statement by the United Nations Secretary General;
  • The Special United Nations Security Council meeting last Friday, 30 June 2006;
  • The decision by the newly formed Human Rights Council to have a special session in Geneva this week;
  • The resolution adopted at the AU Summit in Gambia 1-2 July 2006 that condemned the Israeli military action.
  • We reiterate the call for the unconditional release of the Israeli soldier.
  • We also ask Israeli to immediately cease its military action and work towards finding a political solution to the crisis.
  • The South African government fully supports the African Union resolution that "calls upon the international community, an in particular the members of the Quartet to reactivate their plan so as to pave the way for a return to the negotiating table in accordance with the principles of international law and the resolutions of the UN Security Council in order to achieve a lasting and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of two States (Palestine and Israel) living side by side in peace and security."
  • We hope that common good sense by all parties will prevail.

President Mbeki's visit to Germany

  • South African President Thabo Mbeki, will pay a Working Visit to Berlin, Germany from Friday - Sunday, 7-9 July 2006 where he will hold discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in addition to participating in the 2010 Handover Ceremony and launching the logo for the 2010 World Cup.
  • As you know there are over 100 cultural workers in Germany presenting artistic presentations in preparation for the 2010 Handover Ceremony and to prepare for the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.
  • Since this is a working visit, President Mbeki will hold discussions with German President Horst Koehler and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • Many key issues will be discussed among which the forthcoming G-8 Summit in Russia will be key. It will also be important for President Mbeki to discuss the forthcoming German presidency of the EU and how it can support African challenges.
  • Off course, the crisis in the World Trade Organisation talks will also be high on the agenda.
  • Other issues will also include:
  • The implementation of President Koehler's African Partnership Initiative since its inaugural meeting in Bonn in November 2005;
  • An overview of the current status of bilateral relations and prospects for future bilateral co-operation;
  • Developments within the European Union and Africa Review of Regions:
  • Co-operation in the World Trade Organisation negotiations;
  • South African preparations for the 2010 World Cup;
  • African conflict resolution and peacekeeping and the support of the European Union in these initiatives. In this regard, Germany will lead the European Union Peacekeeping Force to the DRC ahead of and during their scheduled elections; and
  • Other international issues of mutual concern including the situation in Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

South Africa - European Union Strategic Partnership

  • Another issue which is think is very important is the announcement by the European Union (EU) of a strategic partnership between South Africa and the EU.
  • The South African government welcomes this move as a positive step forward in the process of elevating SA-EU relations. SA and the EU have, since mid 2005, been informally engaging each other on the possibility of elevating their relationship. SA and the EU share many common objectives and positions, and both SA and the EU believe that intensified cooperation will be of mutual benefit.
  • During his visit to SA in February 2006, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Assistance, Mr Louis Michel, held meetings with President Mbeki and Minister Dlamini Zuma, in which he presented a non-paper entitled 'A possible South Africa-EU Strategic Partnership." The South African government is presently studying this proposal.
  • A "strategic partnership" relationship will allow SA and the EU to engage in more intensive dialogue on political, economic and developmental issues. According to the EC, a strategic partnership with the EU would give SA far greater recognition in Europe's strategic global awareness, as well as in time allow SA to be placed on a high-priority diplomatic footing with the EU. SA-EU relations would thus hold similar importance to those held by the EU and the USA, Canada, China, Russia, India, and Brazil, all of whom have special agreements with the EU.
  • The South African Government anticipates that formal discussions regarding an elevation of relations could commence once the EC has tabled their proposed strategic partnership before the European Council (the Member States), which is expected to happen in late September this year.
  • This is a very important step and presents an opportunity for African developmental challenges to be placed higher on the agenda of the European Union.
  • The timing of this is also very important since South Africa will be a non-permanent member of the Security Council 2007-2008 and the responsibility placed on it will be greater. We will then be in better position to deal with some of our challenges.

Deputy Minister Pahad to host North Korean counterpart

  • I will host my counterpart from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) Vice Minister Kim Hyong Jun for bilateral political and economic discussions at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday, 11 July 2006.
  • While we will discuss many pertinent issues one of the key areas will be a briefing from my counterpart on the situation in the Korean peninsula with regard to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear disarmament within the context of the Six-Party Talks;
  • This visit takes place at a time when the 6-party talks are largely stalled. It will be important to get an understanding from my colleague as to the reasons for non-movement and obstacles in the process.
  • We will also discuss the North Korean proposal for testing a nuclear missile.
  • The statement has all the supporting information.

Deputy Minister Pahad to Hold Bilateral Discussions with Spanish Counterpart Dr Bernadino Leon Gross

  • I will hold bilateral political and economic discussions with my Spanish counterpart Secretary of State Dr Bernadino Leon Gross at the Diplomatic Guesthouse in Pretoria on Wednesday, 5 July 2006.
  • South Africa's relations with Spain have been excellent - politically and our co-operation in multilateral fora.
  • Spain has undertaken to significantly increase funding (up to UN benchmark of 0,7% of GDP) for development co-operation inter alia in Africa, and recently announced an increase in ODA to Africa from Euro 200m to Euro 400m.
  • The Spanish government has also announced the Cancellation of African debt of approximately Euro 200m.
  • Spain is also currently exploring a new foreign policy with Africa: 'Africa as a new policy priority' of which we will receive further information.
  • Spain is also very key to peacekeeping operations in Africa and we will also discuss this with particular reference to the situation in Western Sahara considering the Spanish influence.
  • As you already know, ETA has recently declared a ceasefire that will bring to an end 50 years of armed struggle. We will discuss this matter and ways in which the international community can assist.
  • And off course, we will discuss the Middle East and Iran.
  • The statement has all the supporting information.

8th Session of the South Africa - Japan Partnership Forum

  • I will co-chair, together with my Japanese counterpart Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Yasuhisa Shiozaki the 8th session of the South Africa - Japan Partnership Forum at the Farm Inn in Pretoria scheduled from Thursday - Friday, 6-7 July 2006.
  • Following the visit by Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka to Japan in April 2006, AsgiSA and JIPSA will be high on the agenda as well as how NEPAD can be used as an overarching framework for Japanese co-operation in Africa.
  • As a member of the G-8, the forthcoming G-8 Summit will be discussed in addition to the World Trade Organisation Talks.
  • As you know, Japan is a very important economic partner for South Africa and Africa - it has now overcome its economic difficulties and for the first time is showing sustained economic growth.
  • The statement has all the supporting information.

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what is the latest on the situation in Burundi?

Answer As you know, the deadline has passed and the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement has not been finalised. Minister Nqakula was in Burundi attempting to finalise the situation but had to return to South Africa due to commitments in his department. He will again return to Burundi later today.

We expect that regional groups, with the Facilitation, will attempt to finalise the agreement.

It is important to note however that the situation as it is, cannot be sustained any longer.

Question Deputy Minister, was the matter of Security Council reform discussed at the African Union?

Answer This matter was discussed. The decision that emanated was that the consensus position (the Ezulwini Consensus) will be supported. However, the Committee of Seven Heads of State must continue to lobby for support from the EU, America, the G-4, etc.

We all accept that Security Council reform is vital, but the matter is likely to be overtaken considering the current rate at which the discussions are progressing.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, am I to understand that flexibility with regard to the veto has been considered?

Answer This matter is one that is consistently debated. Some countries say that we are unrealistic in expecting this matter to be conceded to, others say it is a matter of principle and if the veto is there, African countries should be entitled to it.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what is the South African government's position on the recognition of the government of Somaliland? Will you recognise it? Are you in negotiations with them?

Answer The African Union sent a high level team to Somaliland to assess the situation. Their report indicated that Somaliland should be treated differently to other situations of cessation. This report is now being discussed by other countries to determine how to proceed on the matter.

It is important to note however that the recognition of Somaliland is one part of a bigger situation with regard to Somalia.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, there are reports showing an increase in the numbers of illegal Pakistani immigrants to South Africa. Is your government particularly concerned about this trend?

Answer The matter of undocumented immigrants is one with which the government has been seized for a long time. We are looking into the matter is its entirety - immigrants from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, West Africa, India, China, Taiwan and Pakistan are increasingly coming to South Africa. For some reason, people, from as far afield as Pakistan believe they can live a better life in South Africa.

The Minister of Home Affairs recently announced the relaxation of many immigration laws in an attempt to address this situation.

This matter is not one that is specific to Pakistan and is a matter of concern to us as a government since it impacts on the South African domestic situation with regard to social services, the economy, etc.

We must look at ways of addressing the influx of undocumented immigrants to South Africa.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, was the permanent move of the Nepad Secretariat to Addis Ababa discussed at the AU Summit?

Answer The matter was discussed and we will do a fuller briefing on the matter next week, suffice to say that we must move towards moving the Nepad Secretariat permanently to Addis Ababa.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Tshwane
0001

4 July 2006

 

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