Zuma welcomes new Heads of Mission

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has received letters of credence from nine new Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa.

The President received credentials from the Republic of Romania, Union of Myanmar, United Kingdom (Britain), Thailand, United States of America, Canada, Rwanda, Finland and Hellenic Republic, on Thursday.

Receiving credentials for the first time as the president of the country, President Zuma jubilantly welcomed each Head of State and assured them of South Africa's commitment to improving bilateral relations with their respective countries.

Welcoming the US Ambassador Donald Gips, Zuma recognised the old relationship the two countries have, which he said can be used as a foundation to further build strong bilateral relations.

"Both countries have the same goals of strengthening our bilateral relationship and addressing regional and global challenges."

He indicated that the African continent had lots of problems and was hoping the US would help in some immediate emergencies for crises currently facing the continent.

"I believe your presence here will lift Africa to its rightful position," said Zuma.

In response, Ambassador Gips said he would use the opportunity to foster a dialogue and build on some of the themes that President Barack Obama articulated when he was in Accra, particularly ideas about the importance of partnership and creating opportunity.

"This is a new era in the relations between the two counties," he said, adding that they would assist South Africa in achieving its goals of a better life for all.

For Britain, President Zuma also congratulated Ambassador Nicola Brewer on his appointment, saying that this would strengthen relations with both the countries.

He said South Africa's struggle for freedom, human rights and coexistence, was similar to Britain developing its own transition towards the same values.

Brewer in return assured that his country will vigorously support this government's efforts on good governance, democracy and human rights.

"I couldn't have arrived in at a more exciting time in our own struggle to make poverty history. I can see the energy, conviction and commitment your new government has for putting service delivery at the heart of your policy programme."

She informed the president that South Africa could expect 850 000 fans from the United Kingdom to arrive in the country for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, adding that the world cup would be a beacon of "strength" and success for Africa.

Other countries received, showed appreciation for South Africa's role and efforts in sustaining peace and democracy on the African continent.

Some promised to contribute in job creation, particularly for the youth; trade and investment; and particularly strengthening the agricultural sector.

The new ambassadors are expected to be in South Africa representing their countries for a period of at least four years.