SA must play leadership role - US vice president

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pretoria - The United States was looking to South Africa to play a leadership role both in Africa and internationally, US Vice President Joe Biden said.

Biden met with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in Pretoria on Saturday for bilateral discussions.

South Africa and the US had started a "new strategic dialogue" and the US was anxious to help South Africa in any way it could, the US vice president said.

"We know you do not need us. We need you to continue to demonstrate your leadership in Africa. We look to you to demonstrate that leadership both regionally and internationally," he added.

Bidden said that his last visit to the country was more than 30 years ago, when as a young senator he came to South Africa with members of the black caucus to show their "distaste" for apartheid.

He expressed delight at being back in the country which he said was vibrant, warm and real.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said he was honoured to receive Biden in the midst of the soccer World Cup when 32 nations were competing for the trophy.

He added that he was rooting for the US team, who play their first match against England on Saturday.

"Let's hope for a SA, US final. That would be wonderful," Motlanthe said.

The US vice president responded that there was an old expression "from your lips to God's ears", adding that he hoped Motlanthe's wish for the final reached God's ears.

"It would be wonderful, wonderful thing [a US, SA final]," he said

Saturday's meeting also focused on international challenges such as climate change and Haiti, the Presidency said.

On a bilateral level, Biden and Motlanthe discussed the development of the South African government's priorities - education, health, rural development, job creation and crime.

Both governments also listed governance, democracy, respect for human rights, peace and stability, and economic opportunities for all Africans as priorities.