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Hollande, Zuma discuss African security
October 15, 2013, 9:07 am


The French leader (right) is currently on a two-day state visit to South Africa [AP]

Peace and security in the African continent dominated talks between South African President Jacob Zuma and his French counterpart Francois Hollande on Monday.

“Beyond our borders, we have agreed to continue working together closely on peace and security especially in the African continent,” said President Zuma.

The French leader is currently on a two-day state visit to South Africa.

Zuma said South Africa will “count on France’s support in ensuring the effective implementation of the United Nations Resolution 2033, which provides for closer coordination between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council”.

The South African president will also attend a peace and security summit to be hosted by France in December this year.

“We are going to be ready to be part of the solution to help the Central African Republic come back to its normality,” Zuma told French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Fabius had earlier informed Zuma of the deteriorating situation in the troubled region.

President Hollande also pledged France’s “support [to] regional forces that will be formed under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union” in the Central African Republic.

The French aim is not “to replace” the African forces “but to guide, assist, support [and] train them”, Hollande said.

France has poured 4,500 soldiers into the West African country of Mali to help oust Islamist rebels.

The French defence minister estimated that military operations in Mali have cost the French government over 100 million euros ($131 million).

South Africa has in the past criticised France’s role in Libya and Ivory Coast.

The African nation had blamed France for what it said was “neocolonial interference” in ousting Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and accused the European country of negating the African Union’s Libyan peacemaking efforts in 2011.

“We strongly believe that the resolution is being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation,” Zuma had said then criticising NATO operations in Libya.

Meanwhile on Monday, welcoming the presence of French companies in South Africa, Zuma told Hollande, “You are in the right country in the right continent at the right time”.

Zuma said a proposed Tripartite Initiative that draws together countries of Eastern and Southern Africa will further aid the continent to attract foreign investment.

“By 2015 we expect to establish a free trade area amongst these countries combining the markets of 26 countries with a population of nearly 600 million people, and a combined GDP of a trillion US dollars,” said Zuma.

Zuma and Hollande also addressed the South Africa-France Business Forum in Pretoria.

An agreement was signed between French energy firm GDF Suez and South Africa for a thermal power plant worth 1.5 billion euros, and also for a solar plant, Hollande told a news conference.

Zuma also thanked Hollande for the success of the South African Season in France that opened in May this year.

Two hundred and forty projects have been planned across 100 French cities in collaboration with French companies.

Source: Agencies