December 1, 2022

Biden hosts Ramaphosa at White House as both leaders pledge to strengthen ties and work for global stability amid war in Ukraine

'Our partnership is essential in addressing many of the world's pressing challenges,' US President Joe Biden tells South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the start of their talks at the White House, September 16, 2022 [Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters]
'Our partnership is essential in addressing many of the world's pressing challenges,' US President Joe Biden tells South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the start of their talks at the White House, September 16, 2022 [Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters]
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United States President Joseph R. Biden Jr. hosted South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the White House on Friday afternoon, and both leaders pledged to strengthen ties and work towards global stability amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The South African leader, the second African head of state to be hosted personally by President Biden after now former President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta visited last year, described the United States as “an important partner for South Africa for trade and investment.

“We Really welcome the opportunity to be here so that we can extend those relations and get more companies to invest in South Africa to create jobs,” Ramaphosa said in remarks before his bilateral meeting at the Oval Office with President Biden seated on his left side.

He thanked the United States for the support to South Africa and Africa in general, especially during the fight against COVID-19 with the free distribution of vaccines in 2021 and 2022.

Ramaphosa said he would be discussing what he described as global stability, including in neighboring Mozambique where insurgency has been on the rise.

The South African leader added that he had wonderful conversations with Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday morning.

Vice President Kamala Harris hosted President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa for breakfast at the Naval Observatory on Friday morning “as a sign of the strong partnership between the United States and South Africa,” the White House said in a readout.

 It added, “The Vice President applauded President Ramaphosa’s leadership in the global COVID-19 response and thanked him for his efforts to promote vaccine equity across the African continent.  Vice President Harris and President Ramaphosa had a wide-ranging conversation about steps each government is taking to strengthen global health and global health security, including our significant and longstanding collaboration through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). 

“They also discussed how the United States and South Africa can best cooperate to tackle the climate crisis. Vice President Harris welcomed deeper bilateral cooperation on space engagement and thanked President Ramaphosa for South Africa’s leadership on science and technology.  The two leaders discussed the importance of advancing the women, peace, and security agenda, to include expanding joint efforts to combat gender-based violence, and online harassment and abuse. They also agreed to cooperate closely on matters of peace and security affecting the continent.”

President Biden who spoke first said jokingly to Ramaphosa that the press were a “dangerous crowd” and his counterpart was said to have laughed heartily, according to a pool report.

Welcoming Ramaphosa to the Oval Office, President Biden recalled visiting Africa and told a story about meeting Nelson Mandela for the first time as a senator, calling Mandela “extremely gracious.”

He said that the United States and South Africa would continue to work together on trade, climate, food security, Covid-19 and more. He described South Africa as a country that “has quite a voice” on the world stage.

The press was quickly rustled out after about a total of 9 minutes. There were several shouted questions, but none as loud as the press aides telling reporters to leave, a pool report said.

The White House said in a readout that Biden and Ramaphosa met “to address opportunities to deepen our relationship, identify next steps on issues of mutual importance, and discuss regional and global challenges.”

 The White House added that Biden and Ramaphosa “discussed progress on several of the topics outlined during their initial call in April, including trade and investment and climate and energy.”

“To this end, President Biden announced the creation of a South Africa-U.S. Investment Advisory Task Force and a planned $45 million investment toward the Just Energy Transition Partnership. The two leaders also committed to addressing several of the world’s most urgent challenges over which we both share concern, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its negative consequences for food security in Africa. The meeting reaffirmed the value of our longstanding partnership, and underscored South Africa’s influential voice in global affairs,” said the White House.

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