Merkel to meet Mbeki – to discuss Zim – pressure mounting?


German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to arrive into the country Thursday for her scheduled working visit to South Africa where she is scheduled to meet President Thabo Mbeki on Friday.

The two leaders and their delegations are expected to discuss a wide range of

issues aimed at further expanding already healthy political and economic relations.

The total trade between South Africa and Germany totals R90 billion, with South Africa importing approximately R57 billion and exporting R26 billion to Germany.

Issues pertaining to Germany’s work during its current Presidency of the Group of 8 (G8) and the European Union (EU), particularly relating to the African agenda, will also form the basis of some of the discussions during the meeting.

In this regard Foreign Affairs Department’s Deputy Director General Gert Grobler told the media last week that Germany had played an important role to keep Africa on the agenda of the G8 Summit at Heiligendamm, Germany earlier in the year.

“We are grateful to Chancellor Merkel for her constructive role in that regard,” said Mr Grobler then.

He added that Germany played a “key and highly constructive” role in guiding the G8 through their policies and approach towards the main global issues in the world, including climate change.

Mr Grobler explained that South Africa would use the visit by Chancellor Merkel to also appeal to Germany and the other G8 member countries to honour their commitments to Africa to address the challenges it faced, particularly underdevelopment.

However, Germany has strongly supported the African Union (AU) and its programmes, particularly the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which will also feature on the agenda of the upcoming meeting.

Mr Grobler explained that the meeting delegations would discuss the German Chairmanship of the G8 and look towards the Chairmanship of Japan in 2008.

“Within this context we will look at the AU, NEPAD, developments in the South African Development Community (SADC), conflict reconstruction and post conflict reconstruction and development and peacekeeping, including the need to look at resolving the crisis in Darfur and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; the situation in Somalia, amongst others,” Mr Grobler said.

Germany supports, through the EU, the funding of various peace initiatives in Africa such as the peace training centre in Ghana; over R3 billion (€325 million) for the peace mission in Burundi and over R2 billion (€250 million) via the EU for AU peace initiatives.

Germany currently contributes 8 000 troops to peacekeeping initiatives under the UN mandate and it has recently decided to increase its troop deployment to Afghanistan.

It has troops in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Sudan, Liberia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India and Pakistan.

The meeting will further discuss matters of multilateral importance including the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Doha Developmental Round, and climate change, Iran and the situation in the Middle East. – BuaNews (Tshwane)

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