Zuma in talks with French Foreign minister de Villepin

By Ruth Nabakwe
Paris, France

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

October 28, 2002

The resolution of crises in the Great Lakes region, the prevailing situation in Cote d'Ivoire and Zimbabwe as well as matters concerning the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU) featured among high level talks in Paris Thursday between South African Foreign Affairs minister Nkosazana Zuma and her French counterpart Dominique de Villepin.

French foreign affairs spokesman Francois Rivasseau told journalists that the one- day visit of South Africa's foreign minister Zuma was a follow up of an earlier visit in August by deputy South African Foreign Affairs minister Aziz Pahad and also fell within the perspective of a scheduled state visit to France of South African President Thabo Mbeki in 2003.

The talks also focused on the expected visit to South Africa of De Villepin at the start of 2003 as well as on the bilateral ministerial visits planned for 2003.

South Africa was a leading partner of France in Africa according to French officials who noted that at a time when the African Union’s Presidency was currently chaired by the country's leader Thabo Mbeki, the talks between the two ministers provided what French officials further described as an opportunity to underline the "convergence of French/South African analysis of African crises, the role of the UN Security Council and the necessity to better ensure the African Voice was heard".

French President Jacques Chirac has often declared his firm commitment to be the "advocate of Africa" to the G8 industrialized countries, a stance observers say would be highly visible during the G8 summit in 2003 which would be hosted by Paris. Africa which was currently battling with enormous socio-economic problems expected to reap some economic dividends through increased investments to the continent under the NEPAD initiative strongly supported by South Africa.

Zuma and De Villepin also touched on the tense Iraq situation currently a centre of global concern due to US fears of Iraqi leader Sadam Hussein's alleged manufacture of arms of mass destruction that were seen as a threat to global peace.

The South Africa minister left Paris Thursday.

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