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Foreign Minister Pandor calls on Russian counterpart to negotiate end to Ukraine conflict

Foreign Minister Pandor calls on Russian counterpart to negotiate end to Ukraine conflict
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor. (Photo: Dirco / Jacoline Schoonees)

South Africa has again urged Russia to seek a negotiated settlement to the ‘terrible’ and ‘inhumane conflict’ in Ukraine ‘that is causing terrible harm’.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said in a media briefing on Monday that she would convey this message to her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a telephone call later in the day.

Pandor recalled that in her last conversation with Lavrov, she had indicated that “we would want a process of diplomacy to be initiated between the two parties. And we believe the UN must lead… the UN Secretary-General, in particular”. 

Pandor added that at the high-level start to the annual UN General Assembly meetings which President Ramaphosa would attend next week, South Africa would insist “that there needs to be greater effort at finding a resolution to this terrible conflict, and that the only way to do so would be through a negotiated settlement. And that all of us, as members of the UN, in particular the Security Council, need to play a role in ending this inhumane conflict that is causing terrible harm”.

Pandor’s spokesman denies SA refusal to condemn invasion

At the weekend, Pandor’s spokesperson Clayson Monyela denied the general impression that South Africa had in February refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

“On the contrary, SA did condemn the invasion as a violation of international law, and continues to do so,” Monyela wrote in an op-ed in the Sunday Times.

He appeared to be referring to the statement that his department issued on 24 February, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, which said: “South Africa calls on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine in line with the United Nations Charter, which enjoins all member states to settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice are not endangered.

“South Africa emphasises respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”

This was perhaps an implicit condemnation of Russia’s invasion, although the next day President Ramaphosa appeared to negate it by publicly blaming Nato for Russia’s attack because of the expansion of its membership towards Russia’s borders, which Moscow said had threatened its security. 

And on 2 March, South Africa abstained from a UN General Assembly resolution which explicitly condemned Russia for its “aggression” against Ukraine. Pretoria has since insisted on remaining “non-aligned” in the conflict, refusing to take sides.

Ramaphosa set for queen’s funeral after Biden talks

At Monday’s media briefing, Pandor also disclosed that Ramaphosa would attend the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth next week. This suggested that Ramaphosa would fly to Washington to meet US President Joe Biden in the White House this Friday, travel to London for the funeral and then fly back to the US to participate in the UN General Assembly meeting. 

Pandor said that South Africa would have a “high-level” presence at the inauguration of the newly elected William Ruto as president of Kenya on Tuesday. Her office later announced that Ruto had invited Ramaphosa, who had delegated Deputy President David Mabuza to represent South Africa. 

Ramaphosa and Biden would discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, including trade and investment, climate change, food security, energy, and peace and security, Pandor said.


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“President Ramaphosa will reaffirm the importance of the strategic and mutually beneficial relations between South Africa and the United States. The president will further emphasise the need for enhanced multilateralism and dialogue as the means through which the challenges facing humanity can be addressed. These include the urgent need to stimulate economic recovery in the wake of the Covid pandemic.”

In Washington, Ramaphosa would also meet Congressional leaders and veterans of the civil rights movement “who were instrumental in lobbying the American public against apartheid and who remain loyal to the cause of anti-racism in both the United States and South Africa”.

Relations with US ‘cordial’

“South Africa and the United States enjoy historic and cordial relations,” Pandor said. 

“The US is a major export market for South Africa, a significant source of foreign direct investment, technology transfer, development assistance and tourism. Trade and investment relations take place under the auspices of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which grants duty-free and quota-free access to the US market for value-added products. 

“Agoa has created jobs in both South Africa and the US and is thus mutually beneficial.

“Over the years, two-way trade between South Africa and the United States has been on the increase. The United States is South Africa’s third-largest trading partner (after China and the European Union), with more than 600 United States companies operating within our borders. 

“In 2021, the United States ranked as the second-largest destination for South Africa’s exports globally.

“South African firms have also become significant foreign investors in the United States. Investments from South Africa into the United States are on the increase, with the United States accounting for 17.4% of total South African outward foreign direct investment to the world.” DM

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  • Joe Trainor Trainor says:

    “A process of diplomacy?” “A negotiated settlement?” Seriously? Putin invaded Ukraine. He must withdraw. Anything less than that would amount to rewarding him for his terrorism. He is doing exactly what Hitler did in the 1930’s. Negotiating with dictators like these achieves nothing.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      I agree 100%. Any “negotiation must end with an agreement that Russia withdraws from ALL of Ukraines’ territory. All POWs and kidnapped children MUST be returned.

  • Sheda Habib says:

    Is she selling Africa out to the west?
    I would prefer a neutral stance.
    In many ways Russia is a better ally than our old colonialists.

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      I’d prefer not being sold out to anyone, the West, Russia, China.
      Most wars tend to drag on for many years. Ukraine seems to be on the offensive at this stage. Maybe the mounting body bags being sent back to Russia will result in a change in power in Russia in what appears to be an increasingly unpopular war with the Russian people and many in the Russian Government who don’t support it. With luck, hopefully this war will end in coming months, and not years.

    • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

      In what way is Russia a better ally to South Africa? You cannot use the former colonial yardstick as a measure as it is misleading. You need to define what constitutes an ally. ANC allies are not South African allies but remain just that.
      The measure must include trade relations, education and transfer of technical skills as well as military relations. In practice and reality we have more trade and technical relations with US, UK, Germany and more of their companies in this country. In military terms, the technical skills for integration of APLA and MK were provided by the United Kingdom if you are illiterate on the matter and even our force structure is based on British military doctrine, You must not go around parading your ignorance in public. Gorbachev, agreed with Reagan in Geneva in 1985 and in Reykjavik in 1986 that Southern Africa is part of the Western sphere of influence. You must not listen to garbage.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      Joking?

  • Raoul Coscia says:

    She should maybe ask the Ukrainians what they think about “negotiating a settlement” with a delusional megalomaniac dictator.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    Naledi Pandor seems to be illiterate on international law and ignorant of the UN position on the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The UN Secretary – General on the basis of the UN Charter and mandate as well as international law called for the Russian thug to take his troops out of Ukraine and there is nothing to be negotiated with the Russians. How do you negotiate with a criminal who invades your house? The Ukrainian involved in mortal combat against the Russians in defence of the territorial integrity of their country and national dignity should continue to give the Russians a bloodied nose and make the invasion of their country an expensive adventure for Putin. The South African government foreign policy is ANC policy that does not represent the country but ANC financial interests with oligarchs along with the SACP thugs who have been throughout their existence permanent stooges of Russia. Anybody who listens to an organisation like the SACP that has defended the mass murder of Russian citizens by Stalin needs to have the head examined if they have a head at all. We salute the Ukrainian resolve and bravery and must make it very costly for the thug called Putin. Ordinary South Africans do not support the ANC rubbish.

  • Barrie Lewis says:

    Minister Pandor sounds very plausible on the face of it. Two things jingle; this is only to soften Ramaphosa’s visit to the world. “South Africa emphasises respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”

    And the second is that the negotiated start will be from an acceptance of the current borders attained by the invaders; that the world must accept that Russia has just successfully and permanently occupied about a fifth of the best part of the Ukraine.

    We see you Minister Pandor; right through you.

  • Peter Dexter says:

    It’s really simple. Russia invaded a sovereign country in contravention of international law. They must withdraw and pay reparations. Putin falls into the same category as Hitler and hopefully he will end up in his bunker soon. It’s so sad that the ANC associates with the polecats of the world as it tarnishes South Africa’s brand.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Sure, next time a burglar breaks into my home, I will sit down and negotiate when he’ll leave and which of the goods in his bag he can keep.

  • Too much subterfuge by Pandor. Say it like it is just for once. Say it’s wrong that Russia is fighting a neighboring country because it wants the territory, instead of sitting on the fence. Show morality. SA is excellent at passing judgement on Israel, for example, but are disingenuous regarding Russia. A disgrace.

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