Remarks With South African Minister of International Relations Nkoana-Mashabane
Secretary of State
MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Well, thank you very much. Once again, welcome to South Africa. We had very, very interesting discussions. In fact, we both agreed that we were doing a catch-up. And we have, among other things, agreed to elevate our bilateral relations to a higher level, a level of Madame Secretary and myself, to lead and coordinate our engagements between the two countries.
We have looked at areas of collaboration that we’ve had in the past which are now continuing under working groups from defense to trade and other things, but there are new issues that we have put on the agenda which are quite critical: how we should be tackling the world economic and financial crisis, but particularly focusing on issues that really affect ordinary people out there, issues around climate change and the impact on food security; looking at issues of energy security and how we should be tackling that, bringing in an element of the green energy, because the kind of resources we use to generate energy are not infinite.
We also looked at, particularly on food security, on how we should be using rural development and the technologies that your have to help expedite (inaudible) funding, particularly in South Africa and in the broader Africa.
We will continue working together, we have agreed, at the (inaudible) forum, because we both believe in human rights, and also saying that there is no separation between democracy and development, but also to allow the UN to take its rightful place again and work with us. But also, in South Africa, to continue the program of south-south cooperation and dialogue, but also use South Africa as a bridge on the north-south dialogue. We see under your leadership, Madame Secretary, a continuation of our working together in partnership, moving also into the -- how we could contribute to the Middle East peace process, as we both believe that the solution there lies in the two-state solution.
But on how we can continue working together again in third countries, particularly on our experience on peace building and post-conflict reconciliation and development of all countries.
Our agenda has been long, because, as I said, all we’ve been doing in catch-up. But again, as you are coming to South Africa in the Women's Month, we thought, yes, we should continue working together to enhance our economic and trade relations, but that it will actually be given (inaudible) much more better (inaudible) if we establish a joint business council between our two countries. But also on people-to-people relations and on issues that you and I are very passionate about, development of our women in the Women's Month, that we bring our women closer together, and from our side we will you the progressive woman’s movement of South Africa.
Once again, welcome to South Africa in the Women's Month. (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, Madame Minister, it is thrilling to be back in South Africa, and especially to have this opportunity to work with you. I have greatly enjoyed our discussions. We started off just the two of us talking, and then met with our teams. And we both shared our regret that protocol demanded that we end talking and had to stop our wonderful meeting in order to keep on schedule. But I am so delighted to be here and to be working with you.
And of course, I know there is a lot of anticipation regarding the effort to upgrade and improve our bilateral relationship and work together on important regional and global matters. But that excitement is nothing compared to the excitement that I know you feel about hosting the World Cup next year. (Laughter.) And I think that the beautifully executed Confederation Cup unfortunately didn't end the way we wanted it to end, but it was very well done. (Laughter.) And I am told by some of the young people who are on my team, who intend to be back here for the World Cup, that they are dreaming of a Bafana Bafana-U.S. championship. (Laughter.) So if we could arrange that, that will really enhance our bilateral relationship.
I have a distinguished delegation, including two members of Congress, Congressman Donald Payne and Congresswoman Nita Lowey, as well as our next ambassador to your great country, soon-to-be-Ambassador Donald Gips. And I appreciate the warm hospitality.
The minister of international relations and I had an open, free-flowing conversation. We covered so many subjects. And we believe strongly that, under South Africa's leadership, many of the issues that confront our world, and particularly Africa, will be much closer to being solved and resolved. We are a fellow democracies, fellow members of the G-20. We know we have to work together to build a global architecture of cooperation. Without that, many of the challenges that we face individually and together as inhabitants of this world will not be resolved.
Now, of course, we have our differences. Friends do. Families do. But with our candor and our creativity, we believe that we can, through mutual respect and mutual responsibility, translate our common interests into common actions, for the betterment of our people.
One of the traits that I think the minister and I share is a history of activism, and a history of being involved in politics. And in our present positions, we want to see the work we do translate into better lives for the people of South Africa, the United States, and indeed, the world. That's why we're going to deepen our ties.
We stand ready to support President Zuma as he seeks to deliver progress for the people of South Africa in the priority areas that have been established. And of course, President Obama has a special desire to work closely with President Zuma, to work closely with South Africa.
We look forward to strengthening our partnership to confront the scourge of HIV/AIDS. I have with me our very distinguished new head of our program through PEPFAR, Dr. Eric Goosby, one of the first doctors anywhere in the world to begin treating HIV/AIDS in San Francisco, many years ago.
And as we look at many of the issues that we face – we talked about them all. We talked about working together to realize the vision of a free, democratic, prosperous Zimbabwe. We worked – talked about working together to resolve the north-south differences in Sudan. We commend the work that South Africa has done through the Southern African Development Community toward a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Madagascar. And we look forward to the South African-U.S. business council creating even more opportunities for trade and exporting.
South Africa, on the international stage, is playing a more important role. And we want to work together on everything from climate change to nonproliferation. President Obama's historic declaration of a few months ago to move toward a world of zero nuclear weapons was actually inspired in many ways by what South Africa did voluntarily. And South Africa has been on the forefront of that movement.
So there is a lot to be done. It is a formidable agenda that we face. But I know that the minister and I are interested in making sure that our two countries not only lead, but demonstrate the kind of cooperation that results in positive results for the people of the world.
So, again, Madame Minister, thank you so much.
MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: My pleasure.
MODERATOR: Madame Clinton, Minister, we thank you for your kind remarks. We will now ask the – even before I finish my sentence, the hands are up. We will now take first two questions from the American side, our friends, and then we will take two more questions from the South African side. May I start with Sue Pleming from Reuters.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, (inaudible) what specifically would you like South Africa to do?
And Foreign Minister, what have you promised the Secretary in terms of Zimbabwe?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there is no need for promises. South Africa is very aware of the challenges posed by the political crisis in Zimbabwe, because South Africa has 3 million refugees from Zimbabwe. And every one of those refugees represents the failure of the Zimbabwe Government to care for its own people, and a burden that South Africa has to bear.
So South Africa is deeply involved in working toward a complete fulfillment of the terms of the agreement that was reached to establish the coalition government. Obviously, South Africa, on the doorstep of Zimbabwe, has a lot of contacts with all of the different players in Zimbabwe. And the minister and I talked about ways we can try, productively, to create a better outcome for the people of Zimbabwe.
Now, we, as you know, are attempting to target the leadership of Zimbabwe with sanctions that we think might influence their behavior without hurting the people of Zimbabwe. And during the recent visit to the United States of Prime Minister Tsvangirai, we talked with the President, with President Obama, and he made a commitment to try to provide more help on education and health, the kinds of things that the people of Zimbabwe deserve.
So we are going to be closely consulting as to how best to deal with what is a very difficult situation for South Africa and for the United States, but mostly for the people of Zimbabwe.
MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Well, what did we promise? We promised to continue to work with the people of Zimbabwe to implement the agreement that they signed that made in Zimbabwe for Zimbabwean agreements. We want them to first track their actual implementation of the agreements. And about a week ago, a few days ago, Prime Minister Tsvangirai came to South Africa, met with President Zuma in my presence, and confirmed that they are moving forward but that he would want us to encourage the government, and particularly the president, that they move a little bit faster, so that people in that country do not lose patience on their slow pace of the actual implementation of the agreement. And he said that I should say to our good friend here on arrival that when she lands in South Africa, BBC and CNN will be broadcasting from Harare. This is one of the movements forward in making sure that you know where coalition governments – someone told me that it’s like forced marriages or arranged marriages. They don’t always work your way, but over time you get to get used to (inaudible). It’s better than no marriage, for the sake of the people of Zimbabwe.
Yes, indeed, we've got more than 4 million Zimbabweans in this country. And the passion that myself and Madame Secretary share is on the plight of women and children, and we feel that a full, peaceful resolution of what is going on in Zimbabwe would also give women an opportunity to reclaim their lives.
So that what we have promised each other, to work together to assist the people of Zimbabwe to move faster in the actual implementation of the agreement that they, themselves, have signed.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible.) Mary Beth Sheridan from Washington Post.
QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, there has been a big change in South Africa's position in the past year regarding HIV/AIDS from what had been a sort of denial position before. I am wondering, I know this is important to the U.S. Government, but will his change produce in terms of the U.S. cooperation with South Africa? You mentioned already there is -- I think the largest PEPFAR program is in South Africa. So what, specifically, would his lead to?
And, Madame Secretary, if I could, U.S. officials have talked about pressing a reset button with South Africa. So, you know, improving relations that had gotten kind of chilly under the previous government. So do you see that kind of reset? And in what areas do you see change with the U.S. government, with your relations? Thank you.
MODERATOR: Could you kindly repeat the last question?
QUESTION: Sure. Can you hear me? Okay. Okay.
MODERATOR: The mike – can you move it a little bit?
MODERATOR: Closer. A little bit closer.
QUESTION: Okay. Is that better? The U.S. officials had talked about kind of setting the reset button with South Africa in terms of improving relations that had become sort of chilly under the last government. So I'm wondering if that has happened. And in what areas do you see a change? Thank you.
MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Okay. Well, let me start with the – on the HIV and AIDS, and change. I think the change that has happened is the emphasis and areas of focus. And we have agreed that we will continue to work on that. And, by the way, you will be meeting my colleague, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, the minister for health, and I am sure he will be better placed to outline what actually are we doing in partnership with your people to improve the lot of our people who are already affected or infected.
On the – our relations, we have historic ties and relations with the people of your country. We have agreed today that what has not been happening in the past eight years was that most of the time our relations were happening without proper coordination. The chill, I haven’t really felt it that much, but what I did feel was the lack of coordination in the work that was done by the working groups and so on and so on. And I think the zeal and the passion that you bring in this relationship, and now that we have agreed to have a proper political leadership and formal mechanisms to take this relationship forward, would really be not only exciting, but will help us to expand in our relations, and also to discover or work on the new agenda that we’ve also added to the old one that we’ve had before.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I agree completely. I think that our efforts in the first six and a half months of the Obama Administration to make sure that Africa itself is a high priority in our foreign policy, of course, recognizes the central leadership role that South Africa plays. One cannot think about making progress on so many fronts, from and health and education to conflict resolution, without working hand in hand, closely cooperating and coordinating with South Africa.
So we are not only going to formalize a mechanism for our bilateral cooperation, but I think the personal commitment that certainly I and President Obama feel toward this relationship is reflected in what the minister said.
And HIV/AIDS is one of those issues. I think that the fact that Dr. Goosby is here – I believe it might be his second trip since – he’s only been in office for a few months, and he's been to South Africa twice, and I see him nodding his head back there – shows how eager we are to broaden and deepen our relationship with the Zuma administration. And PEPFAR stands ready to work with the South African Government in whatever way the government believes is most effective. And I will be discussing that with the health minister later.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) South African media (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a good question. We talked about AGOA, which has been one of the biggest market-opening programs in history. As you know, South Africa has taken more advantage of AGOA than any other African nation. But the minister and I discussed ways to improve and increase even that utilization, so that more products made in South Africa can enter the American market duty free.
We also talked about expanding and extending our own bilateral trade and investment and development cooperation, and we’ll be discussing how best to do that. What kind of additional agreements do we need to enhance business between our two countries? And as the minister said, we agreed to begin a U.S.-South Africa business council, and I will be speaking about that later, at lunch.
But we also talked about the challenges faced within Africa. African countries trade less among themselves than countries in any other region. The United States is a market of 300 million people. Africa has a market of nearly 800 million. Now, granted, we have a higher degree of prosperity and greater consumption, but think about developing a market of 800 million people. And yet, African countries don't trade at all the way that it would enhance the business climate and the benefits to producers and consumers.
So, these are some of the issues that the minister and I will put on the agenda for our bilateral strategic dialogue.
MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Well, I think you’ve said it all. We need to work with your Administration to support the African development bank in, you know, providing resources, financial resources, for us to expedite NEPAD programs for the provision of infrastructure in between our countries, because that is the only way (inaudible) expedite inter-trade within the African countries. But also the conclusion of the Doha round of the WTO would also go a long way in assisting us to move forward.
On AGOA, Madame Secretary also agreed that the need to expand it to also include and support, particularly from the South African side, smaller companies, majority of them headed by women, to also gain access. So that it is not only the big companies that are accessing the American market, but also in the smaller ones, who are mainly women, that also get to join the party.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That's an interesting question. Right now, we are focused on supporting the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia against the threat of radical violent extremists, al-Shabaab, and their allies. The minister and I are well aware that al-Shabaab is recruiting young Somalis from South Africa, Australia, and the United States to become suicide bombers, to participate in their efforts to turn Somalia into a safe haven for terrorism, which the United States believes would not just threaten the Horn of Africa, but all of Africa and beyond.
And our primary focus has been on supporting the TFG, but not just militarily. Of course, the security concerns are paramount. But I was impressed by the meeting I had with President Sheikh Sharif yesterday in which he asked for assistance that would provide medical supplies, reopening hospitals, books and materials to reopen schools, so that as they gain ground against al-Shabaab, they're able to deliver services for the people.
Now, we also are going to work to ensure that that government is democratic. They have made certain comments about their desire to have elections within the next year or two, if they are able to do so within the security environment.
So the focus we have had is on Somalia and on Somali land. Obviously, we are watching that. We are, you know, not ready to announce any policy, because we want to try to stabilize Somalia first.
MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Well, I think we have discussed this issue, and I think we do share the idea of the support of the Transitional Federal Government. And under the President Zuma's leadership, we have met with President Sharif on the sidelines of the AU, and they have made certain requests to the South African Government for support. And I can say to our media people here that, as far as we are concerned, on our side, they have asked for support for training to build institutions of government, more than anything else. That’s the request we’ve got from the Somalia, the transitional government.
The AU also believes that we need to give this TFG support because we really cannot afford to have a failed state on our continent. And I think that's what we share with your good Administration, that a failed state in the Horn of Africa is not in the interest of any part of our global village. And that's why we are resolved to working together to make sure that we really don't hand over this country to al-Shabaab. That's what we are determined to do.
MODERATOR: Thank you.