Closer ties between USA and South Africa

The South Africa government looks poised to strengthen ties with the United States by agreeing on Tuesday to build closer cooperation in areas of aviation, energy and security through Africom.

At a press conference in Pretoria, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that South Africa stood ready to welcome any partner that would further the country’s growth objectives.

With reports that South Africa was preparing for a cut to the funding it receives from the US government for HIV and Aids programmes over the next five years, Nkoana-Mashabane called on the US government to continue its contribution to the fight against the disease in South Africa through its President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme.

Through the programme, the US had contributed $3.2 billion to support HIV and Aids prevention, care, and treatment in SA since 2004.

Clinton, who is on a four-day visit to South Africa, launched her diplomatic journey to African nations, criss-crossing the continent with visit in countries like Senegal, South Sudan, Kenya and Ghana in an attempt to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties.

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On trade issues, the Industrial Development Cooperation has signed a $2 billion agreement to provide credit guarantees as part of stimulating the growth of South Africa’s energy sector. A new initiative by USAID will also make available $150 million to small and medium size businesses in South Africa, with the hope of creating more than 20 000 jobs.

South Africa’s remains the US’s largest trading partner in Africa, with exports totalling $7 billion in 2011 – up by 30 percent compared to the previous year.

Not all in the US-South African bilateral relationship is positive, and one of the issues involves the nuclear realm. South Africa is one of several countries under pressure from Washington to either ‘significantly reduce’ imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions.

South Africa received a temporary reprieve when the US granted South Africa a 180 day exception on 11 June 2012. This means sanctions will not apply to South African financial institutions for the 2012 fiscal year. The 180 day exception is renewable if South Africa ‘significantly’ reduces its oil from Iran during the exception period.

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