South Africa and the US have vowed to work more closely in areas such as climate change and security, despite disagreement on the war in Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden and South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to cooperate on health, security and climate on Friday, as the South African head of state visited the White House.
The visit comes weeks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to South Africa and said that Washington sees African countries as “equal partners” in tackling global issues.
What did the two leaders say?
“We really need to make sure we fully understand one another,” Biden said of South Africa. “Our partnership is essential.”
Ramaphosa said he sought to work together on security, including in neighboring Mozambique, which has been grappling with an Islamist insurgency in its northern Cabo Delgado province. He added that Washington had a “key” role to play in security in the continent.
South Africa’s president said he was thankful for the United State’s “considerable support” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa said that he also sought to cooperate with the US on climate change. Following the meeting, the United States announced a South African-US investment advisory task force and $45 million (€45 million) in funding towards the transition away from coal.
At last year’s Glasgow climate conference, developed countries pledged $8.5 billion for South Africa’s transition away from coal. South Africa and other developing countries have long demanded that wealthier countries bear the brunt of efforts to reduce emissions.
Differences on the war in Ukraine
South Africa, like many other countries on the continent, has been reluctant to support Western-led sanctions and resolutions against Russia.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, South Africa abstained in a UN General Assembly vote on condemning Moscow.
Ramaphosa told reporters that South Africa’s position on the war in Ukraine was “respected” in Washington and that he and Biden agreed that they “would like this conflict to come to an end as soon as possible.”
Before the meeting, international relations minister Naledi Pandor said that South Africa seeks to use the UN General Assembly to push for diplomacy between Kyiv and Moscow.
“We would want a process of diplomacy to be initiated between the two parties and we believe the UN must lead, the UN secretary-general in particular,” Pandor said.
sdi/wd (AP, AFP, Reuters)