Successful close to Commonwealth summit

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has expressed satisfaction with the direction and future of the Commonwealth Group.

The President attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Trinidad and Tobago, which ended on Sunday.

Leaders threw their weight behind the negotiation process for a global climate change agreement at the Copenhagen meeting next month.

They also welcomed an initiative to start a Copenhagen Launch Fund, which will spend $10 billion in fighting climate change each year for the next three years.

"The agreement on climate change reflects the Commonwealth's readiness to confront serious challenges currently facing the world. This is a very positive step towards a brighter future for the Commonwealth," said President Zuma.

The leaders readmitted Rwanda into the Commonwealth Group. They also called for the faithful and effective implementation of the Global Political Agreement on power-sharing in Zimbabwe.

In a final statement, the 54 member body said they wanted conditions to be created for the return of Zimbabwe to the Commonwealth.

The group also called for actions against small arms trafficking, human trafficking, piracy and terrorism and voiced support for the right to migrate, the implementation of human rights accords, and efforts to achieve gender equality and security in food and energy.

President Zuma also held several bilateral meetings with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, Danish Prime Minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen and Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. During the meeting with Ban Ki-moon, climate change featured prominently.

On other issues, the President and the Secretary General discussed a number of issues related to the African continent ranging from Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Sudan, the Horn of Africa, the DRC and Burundi.

Zuma called for the UN to continue supporting all efforts aimed at bringing stability to Somalia and other parts of Africa.

Zuma also met with the heads of state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

"The history and future of the peoples of Africa and the Caribbean are intertwined. This necessitates that we form stronger links at both bilateral level and at multi lateral level between the AU and the CARICOM," said Zuma.

The meeting discussed the forging of links between CARICOM and South Africa, CARICOM and the African Union, the African Diaspora summit, the impact of the global financial crisis on middle income small States and climate change.

"We must speak with one voice to advance our interest on trade and economic relations including tourism, climate change, peace and security and other matters of mutual interest," said President Zuma.

In the discussions with Danish's Prime Minister, President Zuma commended the Prime Minister's energetic engagement with South Africa and other world leaders in the build up to the Copenhagen summit on climate change.

"Denmark's participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government deliberations on climate change has added value to the robust discussions that have led to the Commonwealth's declaration on climate change", said President Zuma.

In bilateral talks with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, both President Zuma and Prime Minister Rudd agreed on the need to enhance bilateral relations between South Africa and Australia.

The strong historical links between the ruling parties of South Africa and Australia present an opportunity for closer political, diplomatic and trade ties.

Perth has been identified as the next host for the Commonwealth summit in 2011

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