Germany: SA is top African partner

2011-07-04 21:35

Johannesburg - South Africa is "trade partner number one" for Germany in Africa, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said during a visit by his South African counterpart on Monday.

"We're not just economically bound, South Africa is also a strategic political partner for us," said Westerwelle. "We work very closely together and not just because we're both currently members of the United Nations Security Council."

Germany was a "top foreign investor" in South Africa, Westerwelle's counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane added. "We appreciate the role that Germany continues to play to support South Africa in helping in our quest to keep Africa as a zone of peace, security and development."

Talks between the ministers focused on South Sudan, Libya and Syria, they said at a joint press conference in Berlin.

South Sudan voted to split from the north in a referendum earlier this year and is scheduled to become a fully-fledged sovereign nation on Saturday.

Africa and the African Union would play an important role in accompanying the new state, and South Africa had already taken a "leading role" in the process, Westerwelle said. Germany is chairing the Security Council during July.

The council decided last week to send 4 200 troops to the border region of Abyei, which both sides are claiming due to its wealth of natural resources.

Meanwhile, a "political solution not necessarily a military solution" was the answer to the situation in Libya, both ministers had agreed, said Nkoana-Mashabane.

The ministers wanted to continue their discussion on Syria, to see "if they could help civilians to help themselves to resolve their political situation in a peaceful manner," she continued.

Nkoana-Mashabane also co-chaired a two-day conference on climate change during the visit, in preparation for the next United Nations summit in South Africa in November.