Zuma returns after fruitful UK visit

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma is heading back to South Africa after
his three-day state visit to the United Kingdom where he managed to reach agreement on several bilateral issues and shared international priorities with the host country.

Among the agreements reached with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was a Memorandum of Understanding committing the UK to providing £67 million to help the regional economic communities to improve transport infrastructure in eight countries.

This will support Africa's efforts to increase trade and develop economically in order to grow out of poverty.

In a joint communiqué issued by Zuma and Brown, they indicated that as part of this drive, South Africa would prioritise the establishment of a "One Stop Border Post" between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

This is hoped will reduce costs and bureaucracy associated with cross-border trade.

On the political crisis in Zimbabwe, which dominated their talks, Zuma had suggested sanctions should be eased - a call that was rejected by Brown.

However, the two leaders called on the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe to complete as soon as possible the implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

The UK indicated that it will continue to explore with South Africa possibilities for initiatives to encourage positive change and benefit ordinary Zimbabweans.

Both countries called for an immediate end to the harassment, the repeal of repressive legislation and the establishment of the principles of free speech and free association.

"The Inclusive Government must also put in place the conditions for free and fair elections, which are essential if Zimbabwe is to have the future its people deserve," reads the communiqué.

With regards to climate change, both countries welcomed the new High Level Advisory Group on Climate Finance and called for developed countries to provide finance from 2013.

On nuclear weapons, they said they look forward to President Obama's Nuclear Security Summit next month and progress in the international treaty framework to stop nuclear proliferation, control the number of nuclear weapons and approve a new international conventional arms trade treaty through the UN.

They also agreed to continue to work together to reform global institutions tackling some of the world's problems to make them "more representative and more effective, accountable and legitimate".

Zuma and Brown also touched on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), where the UK reaffirmed its commitment to support the fight against HIV/AIDS and the public health system in its new £25million programme.

The two countries also revisited their ties on education and people-to-people links, among others