Biden discusses continental opportunities and challenges with Ramaphosa of South Africa

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Saturday met with President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa on the margins of the G7 Summit in the United Kingdom, and both leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including continental opportunities and challenges, according to the readout of their meeting released by the White House.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses with the world leaders at the extended family photocall during the G7 Summit at Carbis Bay hotel in Cornwall, UK on 12th June 2021. Photo: Karwai Tang/G7 Cornwall 2021 
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses with the world leaders at the extended family photocall during the G7 Summit at Carbis Bay hotel in Cornwall, UK on 12th June 2021. Photo: Karwai Tang/G7 Cornwall 2021

“They discussed the U.S.-South Africa bilateral relationship and underscored the need to expand global COVID-19 vaccine supply and to cooperate on climate goals in Africa and on other bilateral and regional issues,” the White House said.

Although the readout of the meeting between Biden and Ramaphosa did not go into details, President Biden recently announced that the United States will be providing 500 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine to be shared through COVAX and the African Union. South Africa has been hit the most in Africa by COVID-19 and vaccination has remained fairly limited there while new cases have been going up in recent weeks.

But compared to the United States where more than 600,000 Americans have been killed by the virus and hundreds continue to die daily, South Africa has handled the crisis much better than America as well as most European countries, including France and the United Kingdom where hundreds of thousands of people have been killed already and hundreds continue to die.

It was not clear whether both leaders also discussed the humanitarian situation in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, which has been the United States’ main focus in Africa since President Biden was inaugurated last January.

Ramaphosa, who was the only African President invited as a guest to the G7 Leaders’ Summit in the UK along with leaders from South Korea, Australia and India, also met with British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the last day of the G7 Leadersrsquo Summit on June 13 2021 in the United Kingdomnbsp
President Cyril Ramaphosa in a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the last day of the #G7 Leaders’ Summit on June 13, 2021, in the United Kingdom

“The President’s working visit to the United Kingdom also afforded South Africa and the UK an opportunity to deepen the strong ties that characterize relations between the two countries,” the South African leader tweeted.

Gatherings such as the G7 are important opportunities for South Africa “to promote its view of a fairer and more peaceful world,” Mr. Ramaphosa said in a statement on Monday. “They are also an opportunity to promote our country as a destination in which to invest and do business, as a partner for development, and as an ally in resolving the most pressing social and political issues facing humankind. These gatherings also give us an opportunity to promote our continent as a destination for investment.”

Ramaphosa said he will be presenting “the clear signals that our country is emerging from the devastation wrought by the pandemic.”

“These signals include a strengthening currency, a record trade surplus, and growth in mining, financial services and manufacturing. We can also talk about the life changing opportunities being provided to our people through the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which has directly benefited nearly 700,000 people since it was launched eight months ago. We can reflect that there is progress towards greater policy and regulatory certainty in important economic sectors such as energy and telecommunications,” he said before departing for the UK.

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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