Zuma on UK visit

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday kicked off his first state visit to the United Kingdom where he will meet Queen Elizabeth II and hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The president, who arrived in the UK with first lady Tobeka Madiba-Zuma on Tuesday, will begin his day with a ceremonial welcome on the Horse Guards Parade. He will be formally greeted by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, and will review a Guard of Honour.

Zuma and his wife will then join the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh for a state carriage procession along the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where he will reside for the duration of the visit.

The president will later visit Westminster Abbey, where he will lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. He will also unveil a plaque at Oliver Tambo House (which has been acquired by the South African government), the former residence of the late ANC President OR Tambo.The Queen will in the evening host a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

On Thursday, President Zuma will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street. He will also meet Conservative Party leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg.

While South Africa on Tuesday marked the 100 days countdown to the 2010 FIFA World Cup kick off, Zuma will on Thursday visit the 2012 Olympic Park in Stratford and Wembley Stadium where he will outline South Africa's readiness to host the tournament.

On Thursday, the president will deliver a keynote address to members of the British Parliament at the Palace of Westminster. He will then attend a banquet given by the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London at Guildhall in the evening.

President Zuma will conclude his visit with an address to the UK-South Africa Business Seminar, which is aimed at boosting investment and trade ties. Over 200 South African business people will be meeting their British counterparts during the seminar.

"This visit will further strengthen those ties, particularly in the areas of development, trade, investment, tourism and international co-operation," Zuma said of his visit, which concludes on Friday.