US urges South Africa to adopt a stronger regional role

Mail and Guardian

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Foreign Affairs Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the US-South Africa Strategic Dialogue in Pretoria. (AP)

“We are looking for ways to enhance and deepen our partnership. South Africa has so much to offer to the rest of the world,” Clinton said as she met with Nkoana-Mashabane.

While the two countries almost always have similar objectives on international situations, they often differ on the path to take to achieve desired results, she said.

“As crises and opportunities arise, there are tough issues we have to tackle together, from nuclear proliferation to climate change, security crises, the situation in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Syria.

“We do not always see eye-to-eye on these issues. I don’t know if people always do and certainly not two nations. Sometimes we will disagree as friends do,” she said.

A senior state department official said Clinton wants to “encourage South Africa to play a stronger and more influential role” in global affairs.

The two countries have appeared at odds on the approach to such conflicts as in Syria, Libya and sanctions on Iran.

South Africa, currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, last month abstained from a heated vote on sanctions against Syria backed by European nations and the US.

Approaching conflicts
South Africa said it wanted a more balanced approach and measures to prod the rebels to comply with the proposed peace plan.

But a senior US diplomat said while in agreement with South Africa’s concerns, “we don’t think it’s a parallel situation. The [Syrian] government is using military planes … so there’s a slight difference on that.”

South Africa’s preference for longer negotiations to approach conflicts can be attributed to its historical background, the diplomat said.

And the country “gets very nervous when words like regime change get mentioned. We are not nervous about those words,” said the diplomat. Read more…

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