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US to engage more with SA after Ramaphosa’s visit

The US is not interested in Africa to counter Russia or China nor will Washington dictate to South Africa or any African country who its partners should be, US Ambassador to South African Reuben E Brigety II has said.

Instead, the Biden Administration recognised the need to double its systematic high-level engagement with SA so the two countries could close the gap of disagreement between them.

In future there would be a series of diplomatic visits.

Brigety praised the easy camaraderie that emerged between US President Joe Biden and President Cyril Ramaphosa during Ramaphosa’s recent “fantastic visit” to New York.

He said the visit marked an inflection point between the two countries.

However, according to Brigety, there were reasonable disagreements on a variety of issues, including on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a matter the two presidents discussed at length during their April telephone discussion.

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Instead of imposing on Africa, the US engagements were part of “ America is back” adopted by the Biden Administration.

“It’s time for the US under his administration to reorganise the world on a number of issues. The South African engagement is part of that,” said Brigety.

The two presidents talked a great deal about trade and for US to increase its investment in SA, where at least 600 US firms had invested. “There was a clear desire by both to do more,” he said.

On the Russian-Ukrainian war, it was not in the US interest for the conflict to continue, contrary to disinformation being spread that it did not want the war to stop.

He said the US was not seeking regime change in Zimbabwe with its targeted sanctions against Harare but it was concerned about increasing repressive situation there. “The sanctions are very targeted to individuals and entities, the situation is Zimbabwe is mainly due to mismanagement by the government of Zimbabwe.”

Brigety gave an indication the sanctions situation could change if matters improved in Zimbabwe.

Asked by The Citizen whether Ramaphosa and Biden discussed the SA energy crisis, he confirmed and hoped the SA government would find a lasting solution to the situation and to find new sources of energy. But the US was looking at private ownership for energy investment.

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The US had entered the conversation around the terrorism in Mozambique. It was interested in cutting off Isis in the region so that the Al-Qaeda-linked group wouldn’t spread into SA. But the talks are still premature.

Brigety refuted claims that the US was interested in the militarisation of Africa. Instead Washington had been involved a wide range of programmes on the continent. Key among those was $8 billion (about R143 billion) US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief it invested to fight HIV-Aids in SA.

It is the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history.

Writing on the ANC online publication, ANC Today on Friday, Ramaphosa confirmed he discussed ways to deepen trade and investment with Biden. The US is the third largest trading partner after China and the European Union, and the second largest destination of SA’s exports.

He said several US businesses expressed interest in investing in the country.

ericn@citizen.co.za

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