On 26 September – after the conclusion of the 78th UN General Assembly – in a meeting held at the Treaty Room of the US Department of State, in Washington, DC, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warmly welcomed his counterpart and friend, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor.
Mr Blinken expressed his appreciation for the close collaboration they have had in recent years, both globally, and on various regions and topics.
“It’s always a great pleasure to be with my colleague and my friend Foreign Minister Pandor. We’ve had many opportunities over the last couple of years to work closely together, quite literally around the world. But it’s particularly gratifying to have the foreign minister here at the State Department in Washington,” said Mr Blinken.
Highlighting the importance of South Africa as a strategic partner, Mr Blinken noted that their discussions would cover a wide range of topics, including regional issues and the bilateral relationship. He emphasized the collaborative efforts between the two countries in areas such as climate change, energy, infrastructure development, and healthcare.
Mr Blinken also emphasized the significance of this meeting, given the evolving dynamics in the region and beyond, and expressed his eagerness to consult and exchange ideas with Foreign Minister Pandor.
Ms Pandor reciprocated the sentiment, thanking Mr Blinken for making time for their meeting despite his busy schedule. She mentioned that South Africa was currently hosting its ambassadors from the Americas in Washington and engaged in in-depth discussions about their relationships with countries across the continent. She highlighted the United States as a vital partner for South Africa and expressed her enthusiasm for the opportunity to discuss developments in Southern Africa and the broader African continent.
“We are hosting all our ambassadors that are in the Americas here in Washington and have quite in-depth discussions with them, looking at the wide scope of our relationship with all countries in the Americas,” said Ms Pandor adding, “And as always, the United States of America features as one of the most important partners for South Africa, so I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to catch up and to give you some sense of what’s happening in Southern Africa and broadly on the continent, and just to continue the wonderful cooperation we’ve built together.”
The two leaders “had a productive and direct exchange, affirming the need for robust cooperation between South Africa and the United States on issues of common interest, including reform of international financial institutions to ensure greater inclusivity of the Global South,” said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.
“Secretary Blinken emphasized our desire to continue moving forward with the Just Energy Transition Partnership to help South Africa meet its energy needs and thanked South Africa for hosting the upcoming African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum [AGOA],” he said.
On the margins of the 78th UN General Assembly, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and South African Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel jointly announced that the 20th U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum) will be hosted by the Government of South Africa. The event is scheduled to take place in Johannesburg from 2 November to 4 November 2023.
The AGOA Forum will serve as a platform for dialogue and collaboration, bringing together the United States, AGOA-eligible nations, representatives from regional economic organizations, the private sector, civil society, and labour. The central focus of the forum will be discussions on enhancing trade and investment relations between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, participants will deliberate on strategies to promote resilient, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth and development.
A highlight of the forum will be the ‘Made in Africa Exhibition,’ which is set to showcase regional value chains on the African continent, further emphasizing the importance of economic collaboration and innovation within the region.
The Tuesday, 26 September meeting between Mr Blinken and Ms Pandor underscored the importance of the US-South Africa partnership and their commitment to ongoing collaboration on various global and regional issues.
Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based White House Correspondent, and media commentator with expertise in U.S. foreign policy and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe
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