STATEMENT ON THE UK SA BILATERAL FORUM
The third SA - UK Bilateral Forum led by President Thabo Mbeki and Prime Minister Tony Blair took place in London, UK today Thursday 18 May. The Forum was also attended by both South African and British Ministers -Dlamini-Zuma, Lekota, Maduna, Erwin, Robin Cooke, Jeff Hoon, Steven Byers and Director's General Sipho Pityana, Frank Chikane and Joel Netshitenzhe.
The Forum took place against the background of the need to consolidate bilateral political relations and enhance economic co-operation between the two countries with a special focus on Trade and Investment. The forum also utilised the opportunity to discuss the regional developments and multilateral issues of mutual concern.
Prime Minister Blair congratulated President Thabo Mbeki for the effective management of the South African economy. The Prime Minister expressed the British Government's confidence in the sound fundamentals of the South African economy and its direction. The Prime Minister further expressed his profound appreciation for the quiet diplomacy that President Mbeki is pursuing in an effort to bring about an amicable and lasting solution to the Zimbabwean land question.
Both the President and the Prime Minister welcomed the possible involvement of the UN in facilitating a long lasting solution to the land issue. Both the President and the Prime Minister agreed on the need to end violence and the creation of a climate conducive for the holding of free and fair elections.
In this context, both principals agreed that it was essential that an adequate number of monitors and observers be dispatched to help monitor elections.
The bilateral forum also discussed the constructive co-operation existent between the UK and SA. The forum agreed to extend the presence of the British Military Advisory Team (BMAT) in South Africa until 2003 to assist with the transformation of the SANDF. The forum further agreed on joint training in the field of peace keeping.
The forum agreed that discussions between the policy unit in President Mbeki and Prime Minister Tony Blair's offices focusing on co-operative governance should continue.
The forum noted that the common values of the two countries presented an opportunity that could be used as a basis to facilitate the practical framework for co-operation on bilateral and multilateral issues. It was further agreed that the policy units should explore the issue of closer interaction between government and civil society.
The parties agreed to continue dialogue to find a solution to the conflict in Angola while expressing concern regarding the humanitarian crisis faced by ordinary people of Angola. For its part South Africa reiterated its position that there can be no military solution to political problems.
During bilateral discussions between Foreign Minister Zuma and Foreign Secretary Robin Cooke, the parties reaffirmed their support for the implementation of the Lusaka agreement as a basis for the resolution of the conflict in the DRC and welcomed the recent summit convened by President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika. The need for the rapid deployment of the UN Peace keeping force in the DRC was emphasised.
The forum re-affirmed its view that while peacekeeping is essential the United Nations need to address the underlying socio-economic issues.
The forum held discussions on a range of multilateral issues including the need for the effective reform of the UN system and the resuscitation of the next round of WTO negotiations.
Both sides agreed that talks would continue on how the United Kingdom and other developed countries can assist African continent in its quest for renewal.
For more information contact Ronnie Mamoepa at 082-990-4853
Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs, 18 May 2000