Jacob Zuma volunteers SA help in Middle East

2014-08-06 09:51

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President Jacob Zuma has volunteered South Africa’s assistance to help find a solution for the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Zuma told United States Vice-President Joe Biden in a meeting between the two at Willard Intercontinental in Washington DC, on the sidelines of the US Africa Leaders summit yesterday, that his country was willing to help.

City Press understands that Biden responded positively.

Zuma told SABC in an interview after the meeting: “I think they are keen to work with us from our point of view and they know the issue is a difficult one. They’ve been at it for a long time but they agree that an attempt should be made, and again we should try to find a way of working together.”

Zuma also said he got more insight into the thinking of the US during the meeting, during which other issues such as the renewal of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act was also discussed.

Zuma on Monday received warm applause from both the National Press Club as well as business leaders at the US Chamber of Commerce when he called for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.

Zuma condemned the violence by Israel as well as Hamas.

He also broke ranks with calls from the ANC to expel Israeli ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk. Zuma said this would not be happening.

Following the meeting with Biden, Zuma met with three US senators to lobby for the renewal of Agoa and South Africa’s inclusion in it.

After that he took part in a panel discussion at the US-Africa business forum with other African leaders, including Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.

Zuma said the forum and the summit, due to take place tomorrow, gave Africans the chance to interact with the US government and businesses.

Contrary to a rumour yesterday that Zuma might have to cancel some engagements due to health concerns, officials said he was doing well.

“He answered 18 questions in a very short space of time [at the National Press Club on Monday]. Does that sound to you like a man who is ill?” an official told journalists.

The main summit is due to take place tomorrow.

» City Press’ trip to the United States was partially funded by the US Embassy.

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