Hillary steps out of the game

2012-08-04 17:42

This will be the US stateswoman’s last official visit to SA before stepping down next year

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will step down in January next year after the country’s November presidential election.

This means Clinton’s visit to South Africa next week, the next stage of her African tour, will be her last to the country as a US government official.

Highly placed sources confirmed to City Press this week that Clinton, who was a presidential candidate in
2009, would leave her job in January next year.

Her current African tour has taken her to Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.

Her next stop is South Africa, and she is due to attend the funeral of the late Ghanaian president John Atta Mills.

She’s also likely to make a stop in Abuja, Nigeria, to see the country’s President, Goodluck Jonathan.
Jonathan was in Jamaica when Clinton was in West Africa last week.

While in South Africa, Clinton will meet her counterpart, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, for their yearly strategic dialogue.

The dialogue is a diplomatic structure at which the stateswomen can discuss both domestic and international issues involving their countries.

It won’t be all smiles and handshakes, though – sticking points for South Africa and the US, such as Iran and Syria, will be high on the agenda.

South Africa has cut its oil exports from Iran following a threat by the US to block South African access to the
US financial system if it didn’t do so.

US government officials say the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act will be discussed on Clinton’s Africa tour.

Currently, the act will run until 2015. African governments want it renewed, as it makes access to US markets for African goods easier by waiving duties on some imports.

Speculation is rife in the diplomatic community that Clinton’s extended African tour is based on a fear that China’s foothold on the continent is increasing – at the US’ expense.

But US officials dismissed this.

One said: “There is enough investment to go around.

“It is not that we’re competing with the Chinese – we welcome Chinese engagement in Africa. There is plenty of room for both of us.”

Clinton is bringing a 15-member business delegation with her to explore trade opportunities in South Africa.

Officials said it was important for businesspeople to see for themselves what the country was like, as South Africa often made headline news in the US for the wrong reasons because of strikes or nationalisation discussions.

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