Media statement by President Zuma on the conclusion of talks with President Barack Obama of the United States, Union Buildings
29 June 2013
Let me welcome you, your family and your delegation to South Africa.
This is your second visit to South Africa and your first as President of the United States. We are delighted to host you.
Let me also congratulate you on your re-election as President.
Our talks have taken place against the background of the ill health of our beloved former President Nelson Mandela, the founding President of our democracy who is much loved by our people and the world.
I know that he is your personal hero as well Mr President.
The two of you are also by bound by history, as the first black Presidents of your respective countries. Thus you both carry the dreams of millions of people in Africa and the diaspora, who were previously oppressed.
We continue to pray for Madiba’s good health and well-being.
As we prepare to celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy in April next year, we extend our deepest gratitude to the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the United States for solidarity.
Mr President as a student you also participated actively in campaigns against apartheid especially promoting disinvestment from apartheid South Africa.
We are pleased to be working with you today with a common goal of expanding trade relations between our two countries. We are in essence shifting from disinvestment to re-investments in the era of freedom and democracy.
You are visiting Africa at the right time. Africa is rising.
It is the second fastest growing region after Asia and has become an attractive market for investment.
Thus the United States Strategy Towards sub-Saharan Africa that you launched last year is well-timed to take advantage of this growing market.
We already see immense value in our strategic partnerships such as BRICS and IBSA, and look forward to strengthening the US-Africa partnership.
We are pleased with the growing bilateral trade and investment. There are 600 US companies in South Africa which have created in excess of 150 000 jobs.
The US is also a major export market for South African products. South Africa in turn is your biggest market in Africa, accounting for more than seven billion US dollars of exports.
We reaffirm the need for the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act which expires in 2015.
Our mutual trade has reached the levels preceding the global recession, largely due to the Act.
Arising out of this visit we would like to see increased investment in the South African economy for mutual benefit.
We have placed on the table bankable projects which range from infrastructure development to skills development for the youth, and also across a number of sectors like information and communication technologies, agriculture and the green economy.
We have urged that underpinning these investments should be the drive for regional integration, industrialisation and localisation of supply and manufacture.
Youth development is a key focus area for South Africa given that a third of our population is under the age of 15. This is a key feature of our National Development Plan.
Therefore, we welcome our cooperation in education especially the School Capacity and Innovation Programme as well as investment in primary education and teacher training. It is also our wish to expand cooperation on vocational training to develop our Further Education and Training Colleges.
We acknowledged the ongoing cooperation in the area of Defence under the auspices of the South Africa-US Defence Committee and the training of the security services in crime fighting.
We have lauded the successful health cooperation under the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief funding to address HIV and AIDS and other infectious diseases, which has contributed to the successes and increase in life expectancy.
On promoting the African agenda, we re-affirm our common commitment to strengthening democratic governance and advancing the protection of human rights on the continent.
We would like to cooperate with the US in enhancing peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction and development cooperation, under the umbrella of the United Nations and the African Union.
We are concerned about the mushrooming of rebel movements in some countries in the continent, at a time when the AU is promoting adherence to its policy of zero tolerance for people who come to office through unconstitutional means.
This is a threat to our hard won peace in many countries in the continent.
We are encouraged by the relaxation of sanctions on Zimbabwe by the US Government and urge further steps in this regard as it will strengthen the economy of Zimbabwe.
We are hopeful that the African Union, with the support of the international community, will find solutions to the challenges we face in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger the Central African Republic and Somalia.
Solutions that are African-led will be able to yield results.
The problems in the Sahel region arise primarily from the manner in which the UN Security Council handled the Libyan situation. There are lessons to be learned in that episode.
South Africa remains concerned at the lack of progress in the Middle-East peace process.
We unequivocally support the Palestinian bid for statehood and believe in the principle of a two-state solution. We have noted your latest attempts to revive the stalled negotiations and you have our support in this regard.
At the same time, we are of the view that a lasting peace in the Middle-East would not be possible without addressing the other on-going conflicts in the region, which are a source of much insecurity and instability.
We are encouraged by the positive steps you have taken Mr President to relax long-standing restrictions on Cuba.
I further urge you Mr President, in light of the economic and financial challenges in the US and in the Eurozone, to encourage our traditional supporters not to abandon their pledges to Africa.
Let me also add that the reform of the United Nations Security Council is long overdue and remains a high priority for South Africa, the African continent and the developing world as a whole.
Finally, I wish to reiterate South Africa’s commitment to the relationship with the USA.
I am happy that you will visit Robben Island during your visit, which was home to Madiba and many freedom fighters in our country for decades.
I wish you a pleasant and productive stay in South Africa for the remainder of your visit. We are truly honoured to host you.
I thank you.