|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Deputy President Thabo Mbeki
Joint Press Conference, Oliver Tambo House
Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, December 13, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
DEPUTY PRESIDENT MBEKI: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. First of all Iíd like to welcome the Secretary of State. We are very glad that sheís visited us on a very long and difficult and busy visit to the African continent, and that she was able to, for now anyway, for these few days to forget other problems in the world, to focus on the African issues. As you know, and she will speak for herself on this, sheís been to these various countries, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Congo-Kinshasa, ourselves here, Angola and so on. And as you can see, I think quite correctly the U.S. Government and the Secretary herself are focusing on areas which are of concern, I think, to all of us. And so we are of the same mind with regard to a whole variety of these questions. We have the same concern, for instance, about the violence thatís erupted again in Rwanda.
We are concerned to see the processes in the Congo-Kinshasa move forward -- stability, the cultivation of a culture of democracy, and respect for human rights there, addressing all of these matters of restoring a proper state administration and insuring that development takes place. We are all concerned that there must be full implementation in Angola of the Lusaka Protocol and therefore the United States, of course, is one of the guarantors to those agreements and would of course continue to be engaged with all of us trying to encourage a resolution of this matter.
The relations between the United States and South Africa are very good; there are no problems. We tried to look for problems this afternoon or this morning. We did not find any. So we will continue to work together therefore on this whole variety of matters. We are also very encouraged by the commitment of the U.S. Government. I think it goes beyond the administration into the Congress -- to see new action being taken to encourage sustained and sustainable economic development on the African continent. So the encouragement of trade, of investment flows and all of these matters becomes important to underwrite the peace and stability which all of us want to see on the continent.
Thank you very much.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much.
I am very, very pleased to be here. This is my first trip to South Africa as Secretary of State and the first time in three years that Iíve been here. Therefore it is the first time that I will have the opportunity to meet with President Mandela and have the opportunity now to have a great meeting with the Deputy President and have a really great discussion.
Let me say that I started my trip to Africa this time in Addis where I gave a speech about the importance of opening up a new chapter in our relationships and having the ability to lecture less and listen more and develop some real partnerships. And nowhere is that truer than in our relationship with South Africa or better exemplified than in the conversation that I have just had with Mr. Mbeki.
We were able to discuss a whole host of issues and as those of you that have been traveling with me know, I have been particularly dealing with the problems of the Great Lakes and looking at how the Democratic Republic of Congo can take its rightful place, and how its neighbors can help in terms of dealing with the serious issues there. And so I was very pleased to be able to exchange views with Mr. Mbeki, who has great knowledge of the area because South Africa also has taken a part in trying to be helpful in sorting out the issues there. We also did spend, as he said, quite a lot of time on Angola, which is obviously a concern to us all.
I have stressed a great deal the fact that it is important to have a different kind of relationship and talk about trade and investment, and again this has been echoed by the Deputy President. I think it is very important again to see the similarity of our views, and it is time for cooperation and a time for us to do everything we can to help this great country emerge from its apartheid past and be able to take its rightful place in Africa and internationally. We did spend some time generally talking about international problems and I was asked about what we were doing in terms of the Middle East. I pointed out that my African trip is in fact bracketed by meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat. But I welcome very much all the advice and as we said, our bilateral relationship is so remarkable that we couldnít find problems and weíre very glad.
QUESTION: You just mentioned that in your discussions this morning you spent a good deal of time on Angola. I wonder if youíd say a little more about that, because you talked yesterday about the further marginalization of UNITA. Is that the nature of the discussion?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, what we were talking about is the fact that there are still a number of parts of the Lusaka Protocols that need to be carried out on the mutual obligations and the concern that we both have about making sure that the process is brought to an end and that UNITA is fully integrated within a new Angola and that force not be resorted to in any way to deal with any of the potential problems. That itís important for the peace process to be concluded, and that the international community has spent a great deal of time and energy on Angola. As Iíve traveled there before, there is a sense that the people there are ready to have a normal life, that there is a great possibility in Angola for the kind of trade and investment that we would like to see throughout Africa.
As you know, yesterday I went out to an oil rig specifically to show that economic advancement can help a country such as Angola to be a part of what Mr. Mbeki calls a "renaissance of Africa", so we would like to have Angola be a part of that. I donít know whether you would like to comment further.
DEPUTY PRESIDENT MBEKI: Not really. I accept that indeed we all believe that it is important to complete the processes visualized in the Lusaka agreement. The matter is very close to all of us in the region because if anything goes wrong in Angola it affects all of us, and indeed we would want to see the United States, the other guarantors to the Angolan agreement -- Russia and Portugal -- assist in the process of ensuring that indeed we do get to the full implementation of these accords.
QUESTION: I didnít hear you mention the discussion about the Sudan. United States has taken a much more forward-leaning attitude to Sudan now, calling for a fundamental change there and supporting, as you know, the opposition who want to overthrow the government. Do you agree with the U.S. stance? Do you think that this is going to lead to an end to the conflict or an expansion of the conflict?
DEPUTY PRESIDENT MBEKI: We were approached by both President Basheer and John Garang to see what we could do with regard to the resolution of that particular conflict. President Mandela has met both and has interacted with both. He has been in touch with President Moi who was leading the mediation process as far as that particular region is concerned with regard to the matter of the Sudan and we want to encourage them to find a resolution to that particular question. To end that conflict, because it is quite clear that that particular conflict also contributes a great deal to other problems, not only in the Sudan but in the region generally. And so that has been the particular South African intervention with regard to this matter, and we would continued to do what we can to encourage movement in that direction.
QUESTION: Was the American intervention useful and helpful toward the end that you were just describing?
DEPUTY PRESIDENT MBEKI: Well no, we appreciate U.S. concerns around matters coming out of the Sudan. I donít believe that the United States would subtract from what we are trying to achieve as a result of the request of these contending partners.
QUESTION: Did you discuss President Mandelaís recent trip to Libya or the matter of South African arms sales?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: As Iíve said, we did not find any disagreements and those that we have, we talk about quietly and I think that we generally think that these are issues that are best handled in diplomatic channels.
QUESTION: Why did you choose these countries for your African journey and does it mean that Washington considers these countries as its strategic partners in Africa and why, if so?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. I thought we were going to talk about NATO expansion. Let me say that I specifically chose these countries because we are concerned about what is going on in central Africa. I have said a number of times, from my previous visits to Africa, that Zaire had caused major problems, that its tentacles had reached into a number of conflicts within Africa and that, as a huge country with nine countries surrounding it, it is important for us to work very closely along with our African partners to see that the Democratic Republic of Congo is able to emerge in a way that makes it an asset to the region.
I also felt that it was important to meet with the countries surrounding to talk about the importance of having strategic and investment relationships with those countries and to show the fact that we consider our relations with Africa among those that are most important to the United States. We have strategic, economic, political and humanitarian reasons for having the closest possible relations with Africa and especially those countries.
QUESTION: I want to ask you about an internal matter. You take over as President of the ANC on Tuesday. The conventional wisdom seems to be that you intend to focus more on transformation of the society, less on reconciliation. Could you talk about how accurate that is and what your emphasis will be going forward?
DEPUTY PRESIDENT MBEKI: Well, first of all we need to wait for Tuesday, donít we? I tried to persuade the Secretary of State to attend the ANC conference so she could vote correctly.
No, there will not be a change of policy. The basic policy positions of the ANC, Iím certain, will be maintained at the conference and so all of the major elements of that policy, whether youíre dealing with matters of national reconciliation, of transformation, change of the state machinery, achieving high and sustained rates of economic growth and development -- all of these things, the foreign policy stance of the country, I donít think any of these things will change.
QUESTION: Youíve got some pretty big shoes that youíre stepping into. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges involved in succeeding Mr. Mandela and trying to satisfy both the foreign investors and your domestic political constituency at the same time?
DEPUTY PRESIDENT MBEKI: I donít know what you want me to say. No, President Mandela and myself and many others belong to the ANC. And the population, investors -- domestic and foreign -- have been responding, I believe, to positions that the ANC has taken. I donít think that anybody expects that as a result of the retirement of President Mandela from the ANC leadership, I donít believe that anybody believes, thinks that would make an impact with regard to decisions that an investor might want to take. So I donít think, you see, thereís going to be, as I was saying earlier, any policy shift, policy change, and therefore the change of persons, I donít think really has a material difference in terms of where the countryís going and how people would respond to the government.
QUESTION: Madam, you said that you have discussed in the Republic of Congo the political transition. In working with South Africa on that, I wondered if you could elaborate a bit on that specifically about whether there is going to be any formal cooperation with the South African task team that has been set up to aid the transition in that country.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all when I was in Kinshasa, I spoke with President Kabila about the importance of developing democratic institutions, about inclusiveness and transparency, about the importance of human rights, the importance of allowing political parties to exist and to develop a genuine dialogue with the people of the Congo. These are the same kinds of issues that South Africa is interested in and we just now talked about the importance of having that relationship go forward through the structure that was organized as well as through other informal ways. I think that we are agreed that it is important for those elements to exist in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
QUESTION: Did you talk about the African peacekeeping force (inaudible)?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I have to say that this time we didnít. We have talked about it other times and we see the value of it, but we did not this time talk about it. We had so many other things to talk about.
DEPUTY PRESIDENT MBEKI: Thanks a lot.
[End of Document]
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