Pretoria – A government delegation left for the United Kingdom on Wednesday, as part of strengthening political and bilateral relations between the two countries.
Led by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane, the team will attend the 9th SA-UK Bilateral Forum.
Department spokesperson Clayson Monyela described the upcoming forum as “an important milestone” in relations between the two countries as its main thrust would be to implement the ideals expressed in a joint declaration adopted at the end of President Jacob Zuma’s state visit to the UK last year.
He said the forum will culminate in the adoption of a joint strategy that will henceforth serve as a blueprint for enhancing the relations between South Africa and the UK.
“On May 4, 2011, in preparation for the forthcoming Bilateral Forum, the department of international relations and co-operation held a meeting with South African government departments and the British High Commission to discuss and agree on the draft joint strategy,” Monyela said.
It was decided some departments were critical drivers of the strategy and they must therefore attend the Bilateral Forum scheduled for Thursday in London.
During the deliberations, key departments were identified as critical drivers of the strategy, making it imperative for them to attend the Bilateral Forum.
These departments included finance, trade and industry, environmental affairs, energy, mineral resources, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, as well as sports and recreation, home affairs and arts and culture.
Monyela said these departments would help achieve the ideals envisioned in the joint strategy framework.
These he said included doubling trade by 2015, fostering strong, sustainable, open and inclusive economies that promote national economic stability, regional and international growth, and bilateral business links between SA and the UK.
“In addition, it is envisaged that these departments will be key in driving the process towards realising safe and secure societies which prevent and combat crime, counter-terrorism and weapons proliferation, and work to reduce conflict and other threats to human security,” Monyela said.
The Bilateral Forum was established in 1997 as a structured consultative mechanism between the two governments to develop and enhance mutually beneficial political, cultural and economic relations. –BuaNews