by TINTSWALO BALOYI
PRETORIA, (CAJ News) – FRANCE and South Africa have committed to solidify their relations, following the historic visit of French President, Emmanuel Macron, to the Southern African country.
His two-day official visit kicked off on Thursday, hosted by his local counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, at the Union Buildings in the capital, Pretoria.
The talks centred on the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, global peace and bilateral relations as well as climate change.
Ramaphosa said South Africa and France were fully committed to the progressive development of a multilateral response to global environmental challenges, guided by science and the principles of fairness and equality.
“I appreciate that President Macron has demonstrated a willingness to listen to the challenges faced by African states. This is what distinguishes him from others (global leaders),” Ramaphosa said in his closing remarks outside the Union Buildings.
The two leaders earlier discussed the global response to the COVID-19 response, particularly the lopsided distribution of vaccines.
Ramaphosa lamented what he termed vaccines “apartheid” which saw Africa’s vaccinated population at 2 percent, while vaccinations, for example in the United States covered 40 percent.
The two leaders agreed to lobby for a vaccines waiver at the G7.
The conflict in Mozambique, which Macron pledged his country would assist, and France’s role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda were also discussed.
“We also need to deal with youth employment, climate change, cultural cooperation and creating a response strategy for the regional crisis. France stands ready to assist,” Macron assured.
He also disclosed the two presidents the vast opportunities existing for the African continent.
“We considered how we could ensure economic cooperation between Africa and the world,” the French leader said.
South Africa is France’s largest trading partner in Africa. France is South Africa’s second largest trading partner in the European Union (EU).
During the 2019 South Africa Investment Conference, French companies pledged R20 billion (US$1, 451 billion) of investment into the country.
– CAJ News