REMARKS BY PRESIDENT MBEKI AT THE STATE BANQUET - WHITE HOUSE, Monday, 22 May 2000
Mr President and Mrs Clinton
Vice President and Mrs Gore
Members of the US Cabinet
Your Excellencies Ambassadors
It is always a great pleasure for us to visit the United States because we know that here we have millions of friends, such as those present here today, who wish us well and are always prepared to share our failures and successes with us.
Let me take this opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation to President and Mrs Clinton, Vice President and Mrs Gore, the US Government, and indeed the American people, for the warm reception and welcome with which you received us.
My first state visit to the United States comes at a very important juncture in the ongoing expansion and deepening of the relations and friendship between our two countries and peoples. Since the demise of apartheid in South Africa, and the first historic democratic elections held in 1994, our country has rejoined the community of nations.
We are building a society based on the fundamental principles of democracy, non-racism, equality, non-sexism and respect for human rights enshrined in our constitution - the same principles on which this country firmly rest
Although I believe that in South Africa we are making progress in our efforts to unite our nation, to develop and deepen our democratic system, we still face many challenges we inherited from the apartheid system. We sincerely welcome the USA's efforts in assisting us to deal with these challenges.
During our discussion today we also observed that as the world globalises, we continue to be confronted by unacceptable levels of poverty and deprivation, disease, war and conflict. Indeed the gulf between rich and poor has been widening.
We also agreed that it is the joint responsibility of today's leaders to work together to address this situation. The United States has proven itself as an important partner in meeting these challenges. I am pleased to take this opportunity to acknowledge your commitment to achieving the goal of a better life for all of humanity.
Coming as we do out of the African continent, we cannot but express our gratitude to your Administration Mr President, for the increasing focus and attention of the United States on the continent of Africa.
We recognise your various initiatives aimed at promoting a partnership with Africa which is based on mutual interest and respect. We are particularly pleased that the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act has been signed. This will indeed further strengthen the continent's economic relations with the USA and contribute to the economic regeneration of the African continent.
Africa, Mr President, remains the world's foremost development challenge. We look forward to working with the USA in ensuring that the international community, including the multilateral institutions - the World Bank, IMF, the WTO, UNCTAD and UNDP - increase their focus on the development challenges facing our continent. Increasing inward investment into Africa will enable the continent to benefit concretely from the Act you have just signed.
As you walk the last mile of your Presidency, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family good health. I would also like to thank both you and Mrs Clinton personally and on behalf of the people of South Africa, for the sincerity of the friendship for our people that you have shown during your term of office. The relations between our peoples have grown significantly during your term of office.
I would now like to propose a toast to President and Mrs Clinton and to the strengthening of the ties of friendship that bind our two countries.
To President and Mrs Clinton, and our continued friendship.
Issued by the Office of the Presidency