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Remarks at Signing Memorandum of Understanding Establishing the U.S.-South Africa Dialogue

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 14, 2010


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is such a great personal pleasure for me to welcome my friend and colleague, the foreign minister of South Africa. And I just can’t thank her enough for the gracious hospitality that she extended to me when I first came shortly after her tenure began and we were both new foreign ministers together. I cannot match the wonderful dinner, dancing, and singing she made me do when we were together. (Laughter.) But I could give her a meal, at least. (Laughter.)

The partnership between the United States and South Africa is grounded in mutual respect and mutual interest. We have a lot to learn from each other and we have so much we can accomplish together. South Africa’s leadership is critical to the prosperity and security of the South African people and to Africa and the world. Its sound fiscal policies and commitment to sustainable economic development provide a model for the region. And South Africa’s willingness to embrace political reconciliation and adopt a modern and progressive constitution, to diversify its economy, to empower women as citizens and entrepreneurs, and to work with its neighbors to advance regional stability, have all contributed to expanded trade, rising investment, new jobs, a dynamic economy, and a more equitable society.

During my visit last August, the foreign minister and I discussed launching a strategic dialogue that would expand bilateral cooperation and engage our entire governments. So in between the times we were meeting, there would be a lot of work going on to develop relationships, to identify areas of mutual concern, problems that we could work on together. And I’m pleased that today, we’re taking a significant step toward making that vision a reality.

This memorandum of understanding represents the breadth of our partnership and the strength of our friendship. It establishes the framework, guidelines, and priorities for a strategic dialogue that will focus on the full range of our common concerns, including but not limited to health, education, food security, trade and investment, nonproliferation, and disarmament. This is the culmination of a very productive year.

As a member of the G-20, South Africa is a crucial economic player. And we have worked together to respond to the worldwide recession. Last year in Pretoria, the minister proposed establishing a joint business council to strengthen our bilateral, economic, and trade relations. And in September, during the Corporate Council on Africa meetings, we reestablished the U.S.-South Africa Business Council through another memorandum of understanding.

Energy continues to be a key concern for both our nations. Secretary of Energy Chu and South African Minister of Energy Peters have signed an agreement to boost cooperation in research and development of nuclear energy. And just two days ago, Minister Peters and Deputy Secretary of Energy Poneman launched U.S.-South Africa energy dialogues. And our teams also worked closely together at the climate change talks in Copenhagen.

And I’ve never had the chance to say this publicly before, Minister, but President Zuma played a very constructive role, both in the large meetings and in that very small meeting that President Obama and I crashed that – (laughter) – led to the accord that came out of Copenhagen. But President Zuma was extremely helpful in that process.

Last fall, we launched a nonproliferation and disarmament dialogue which laid the groundwork for our successful collaboration at this week’s Nuclear Security Summit. And we were, again, very pleased that President Zuma could participate in this excellent summit, and I was a participant in the bilateral meeting between our two presidents on Sunday. And as one of only – I think one of the only nations that have voluntarily dismantled its nuclear arms program, South Africa brings great leadership to this cause.

We’ve continued to work together on HIV/AIDS, especially through PEPFAR, and we are collaborating closely on security for the upcoming World Cup. And President Obama was very proud to tell President Zuma that we know that the largest number of tickets bought so far from outside of South Africa are Americans. So we are looking forward to that. And later, I will ask the minister to sign with me a soccer ball as a surprise gift to one of my aides who is soccer-crazy and is going to the World Cup. (Laughter.)

So thank you, Madam Minister, for your leadership, and I look forward to working closely with you and strengthening the ties even more between our two nations.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Thank you. Thank you. Well, Your Excellency, Madam State Secretary, Hillary, friend and colleague, permit me on behalf of our government to congratulate you on the successful nuclear summit convened by your good self and President Obama.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again – to assure you of our government’s commitment to ensuring that this collaboration with your good country and other stakeholders, important stakeholders who came to the summit achieved – that we all achieve the ultimate goal of disarmament, nonproliferation, most importantly, the peaceful use of nuclear energy. That can be attained if we work together. I’m quite pleased with the work that our Energy Secretary and Minister Peters have so far committed to.

I would also want to say to you that I’m very pleased that your good self, as the State Secretary, and I could schedule time to meet, though we’re still recovering from this hectic schedule for the past two days with our bosses, following on – also on the sidelines of this very important summit, a very, very important bilateral meeting that our two presidents held. It was, for the first time in the 10 months of President Zuma’s ascent to the leadership of South Africa, that would come to this wonderful country and have President Obama saying we are here with you for the long haul, we will be here with you, we will support your five key priority areas, and make sure that your government succeeds, that we will continue to work together in the multilateral fora.

This I’ve never had before where there is unconditional commitment to work with us to make South Africa, our region in Africa, a better place for security and development. I can assure you that we’re quite pleased that you’ve sent us one of your very best ambassadors. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s what he told you to say.

FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. (Laughter.) See, it’s one thing to try and encourage the ambassador to do his work, but (inaudible) find him ready. I can also tell you that he attends all our important parliamentary sessions. I always look out and see him sitting there listening attentively. So he’s really a good friend of South Africa. I also want to take this opportunity to say to you, a good friend, that we’ve completed our processes of selection of an ambassador to come and represent us. And I can assure Ambassador Gips that he’s equally a good match for him. (Laughter.)

I’m also quite heartened by the fact that as we work together to keep Africa safe and a place where development will take place unhindered, we also hope to achieve our millennium development goals working in partnership with you. I am really quite heartened by the warm rapport that you and I have established in this very short period of time that have been working together. And I am committing myself to continuing working with you. As I said as I was signing the book there, to use both our passions and our love for our people to improve the lot of our people in both countries.

The MOU that we are signing today of strategic dialogue between ourselves will help us to continue to coordinate activities of all our departments, and above everything else, to just do a catch-up of the time lost. You know what I’m talking about. Our working groups have not been good to do at what they had intended to, and among the working groups that will be working under us from other (inaudible) departments, key to them would be health, as you said, education, working with you to get access to your technology in improving the lot, particularly yield per hectare in terms of agriculture, to reach out to (inaudible) produce, but also to improve on rural development. Because South Africa, Africa has the potential to provide food security to our people in the continent, but also to the world. We really cannot continue to become the net importer of food products when our people are best in doing exactly the same.

I really don’t want to waste our time in repeating the good words you’ve said about the collaboration and cooperation that took place between our two presidents in Copenhagen. (Inaudible) when you called that strategic tactics, it had to have been. So the accord came into being and actually saved the day, because if it didn’t happen, our people would have come back home empty-handed.

I want to repeat, Madam Secretary, that we look forward to continuing working with you, indeed, in our peace efforts, particularly conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction in many of our countries in Africa. And we think that your commitment to work with us would help us achieve that through the AU mechanisms.

Yes, we wish we could receive President Obama in South Africa. When our two presidents met, he said – President Obama said he really would have loved to be part of this soccer spectacular. I call it our greatest party, the greatest spectacle that will be taking place for the first time on African soil, where South Africa chose just to be the theater. And we’re pleased that with this partnership, the Americans have chosen to come to Africa in large numbers, but we would have been pleased if President Obama could come. I remember him saying that if – he would maybe consider coming if the American team goes to the quarterfinals – (laughter) – might come if they reach the semifinals and will come if they are --



SECRETARY CLINTON: I was a witness. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: But we will appreciate that, even if he doesn’t afford to come because of other commitments. We would be more than keen to receive the Vice President. He didn’t put any conditionalities. (Laughter.) I’m sure he would be happy just to be there and be part of this excitement. We are really quite pleased that, like a true friend, you’ve reached out to us to help us as we prepare particularly the security sector, preparing for a incident-free (inaudible) World Cup in South Africa. And we are quite happy – our security sector is very happy with the collaboration that we are getting from your good selves.

As for South Africa’s performance, Bafana Bafana, President Zuma says he still hope and wish and believe that Bafana Bafana can surprise many skeptics and remain just there, but – well, if all goes well, maybe we’ll see the finals between Bafana Bafana and the Americans. (Laughter.)

Once again, dear friend and colleague, let me thank you most heartily on behalf of myself and our delegation that within seven months since you came and celebrated with us, the Women’s Day in South Africa, and that we were blessed with the presence of many of our stalwarts and veterans of the women’s struggle for emancipation – (inaudible) emancipation in South Africa, they are still talking about your warmth and the time they spend with you. I don’t get to invite them every day. They don’t accept my invitation all the time. I took advantage of your presence and we had good fun.

I believe that there’s just so much passion and energy, as I said, to work for people that, in hardly seven short months, here we are, coming in here today to sign this very, very important MOU, which really would assist us to accomplish a lot in making sure that we coordinate all the work done by our (inaudible) departments to make sure that this relationship realizes its full potential.

Let me say in closing that – count on me to continue supporting you on your efforts in Haiti. We’re also trying to do our bit because Haiti means a lot to many of us in the African continent – the first republic run by black people in the Western Hemisphere 200 years ago. They remain a torchbearer for us and we don’t want Haiti to sink. But in you as their neighbor, we think they will not. And count on us to support you.

(Inaudible), when you thank a good friend for hospitality, you say (inaudible). In my mother tongue, we say (inaudible). All I’m saying is that I’m going to become a regular visitor, so remember that – just to remain patient with me, because you and I have a lot to do together. I thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.


MODERATOR: The Secretary of State and the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation are signing a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of a bilateral strategic dialogue between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the United States of America.

(The memorandum of understanding was signed.)

PRN: 2010/451

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