South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa visits Washington for talks with Joe Biden on the climate crisis, trade and the Ukraine war.
US President Joe Biden hailed South Africa as “an important voice” when he met with President Cyril Ramaphosa of the country at the White House to discuss efforts to tackle the climate crisis and end the war in the country. Ukraine.
“Our partnership is essential in addressing many of the world’s most pressing challenges… and South Africa is an important voice on the global stage,” Biden told Ramaphosa in the Oval Office before the meeting. Negotiations began on Friday afternoon.
“We have a lot to talk about. A lot of things are happening around the world,” Biden said.
A senior Biden administration official had earlier told reporters that the US President wanted to discuss the war in Ukraine with Ramaphosa, and hear “the South African leader’s thoughts on the best path in Ukraine.” front”.
Biden, who led an international coalition that imposed a series of economic sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin during the war, wants South Africa to help in those efforts.
But the South African government has calls against directly condemn Russia for the invasion.
The country, which has close historical ties to Moscow due to Soviet support in the fight against apartheid, abstained in a UN vote denouncing the invasion of Ukraine.
At the end of May, Ramaphosa speak The “outsiders” have paid the price with Western sanctions against Russia. “Even countries that are outside or not involved in the conflict will be subject to the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia,” he said at the time.
Ahead of a meeting at the White House on Friday, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, said Ramaphosa would stress the need for dialogue to find an end to the war.
Mr Pandor added that the issue will be the focus of South Africa when it attends the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly next week.
“We want a diplomatic process to start between the two sides and we believe the United Nations must take the lead, especially the UN secretary general,” Pandor said.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby earlier on Friday dismissed suggestions that the US was trying to pressure South Africa to stay away from Russia.
“The United States does not force anyone to choose between us and anyone else – whether it is Ukraine or in the Indo-Pacific region. We respect sovereignty,” Kirby told reporters during a press conference.
Ramaphosa’s visit to Washington comes just weeks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a private trip to South Africa and promised the administration would do more to listen to Africa.
Beginning a breakfast trip with Vice President Kamala Harris, Ramaphosa expressed gratitude to the United States for its “substantial support” to the COVID-19 pandemic and said Washington also had a “significant role to play.” on security issues across Africa.
“The visit is really aimed at strengthening the relationship between South Africa and the United States,” the South African president said.
That was echoed by Harris, who said the talks were “a sign of the strong partnership” between the two nations.
The leaders discussed strategies to respond to the climate crisis and the efforts each country has made towards global health, the US vice president said in a statement. statement. “They also agreed to work closely on peace and security matters affecting the continent.”
Before his talks with Biden, Ramaphosa said he was eager to discuss “a wide range of issues” with his US counterpart, including trade.
“The United States is an important partner of South Africa from a trade and investment standpoint,” said Ramaphosa. “We really welcome the opportunity to come here so we can…have more companies invest in South Africa to create jobs.”
He also said he hopes to discuss energy transitions, “because many of us are a bit scared about what an exact transition means”.
Like other developing nations, South Africa – where Mpumalanga province to the east is one of the world’s largest concentrations of coal – has argued that industrialized nations need to work to cut reduce emissions due to their historic responsibility for climate change.
Rich countries last year Glasgow Climate Conference promised $8.5 billion in funding for South Africa to transition away from coal.