SA, Norway must continue strengthening relations

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has urged the Norwegian and the South African governments to continue implementing the agreements they have already signed.

Briefing the media after bilateral discussions with Norwegian King Harald V and Queen Sonja, Zuma said these agreements contributed to their excellent bilateral relations and the fostering of strong bonds of friendship among their people.

He said the two countries faced challenges from the global recession and it was important that both countries worked together to ensure that they overcome them and emerge strong and resolute.

"Of equal importance are challenges and threats we all face because of global warming or climate change, as some call it.

"I'm of the view that we must co-operate, in this regard, as we approach COP15 in Copenhagen in December," Zuma said.

The leaders agreed to enter the Copenhagen conference on climate change with the realisation that the matter was a global crisis.

"We are happy about this (the Copenhagen conference) that generally the entire globe is looking at one direction now," he said.

South Africa and Norway today signed several agreements in various fields such as energy, trade and investment. The two countries also agreed to increase their cooperation in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, education, science and technology, among other things.

Zuma said it was imperative that the people of Norway continued to stand side-by-side with South Africans, for the upliftment of people of South Africa, as well as in building bridges for peace and development.

"I am excited about our relations and I'm looking forward to many more years of fruitful cooperation and the continuation of our partnership.

"Our people are ready to welcome the Norwegians who attend the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and are grateful to the contribution which you have made to make it eco-friendly."

For his part, King Harald felt that the energy agreement signed was an important area for current and future cooperation.

"Energy is a new and important area of common engagement interest for South Africa and Norway... not only politically, but for business."

Sasol and the Norwegian company Gassnova signed an agreement to expand Sasol's role in the European carbon dioxide technology centre that is still under construction in Norway.

South Africa and Norway enjoy cordial relations characterised by regular high-level dialogue, diverse bilateral development cooperation programmes and growing economic ties, coupled with sound relations at a multilateral level.