- Russia’s Lavrov visits ally South Africa for talks
- Lavrov also goes to Eswatini, Botswana and Angola
- South Africa’s Pandor says naval training is ‘natural’
- President Ramaphosa sees South Africa as a neutral party
PRETORIA, Jan 23 (Reuters) – South Africa’s foreign minister on Wednesday dismissed criticism of plans for joint military exercises with Russia and China, saying it was “natural” to host joint exercises with “friends”. relationship,” he said.
Naledi Pandor made the comments during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. intrusion of Ukraine.
The South African official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak, said Lavrov would then visit Eswatini, Botswana and Angola.
South Africa is one of Russia’s most important allies on the continent, divided over aggression and Western attempts to isolate Moscow for its military actions.
Lavrov visited US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen the day before she arrived in South Africa. This was part of a long trip to the continent designed to strengthen ties with the United States.
In Washington, the White House expressed concern about South Africa’s military plans.
“The United States is concerned about any country as Russia is waging a brutal war against Ukraine,” White House spokeswoman Carine Jean-Pierre said.
She said she had no information to offer regarding conversations with South Africa on the matter.
Some opposition parties and South Africa’s small Ukrainian community say hosting Lavrov is insensitive.
South Africa abstained from voting on UN resolutions on war, arguing it was impartial about the Ukraine conflict.
Moscow, a friend of the African National Congress during its liberation movement against white minority rule, will hold joint exercises with Russia and China on the east coast from February 17 to 27. .
“All countries are having military exercises with friends around the world. It’s a natural progression of relationships,” Pandor told reporters in the capital Pretoria alongside Lavrov.
The exercise will begin on February 24, the anniversary of what Russia calls a “special military operation.” Ukraine and her allies accuse Russia of seizing imperial-style land from neighboring former Soviet republics.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s regime expressed a desire to mediate Participated in the Ukraine conflict as a neutral country.
Pandor stressed that South Africa, which had initially asked Russia to unilaterally withdraw from Ukraine, was no longer in that position.
“If I repeat this … Given the massive transfer of arms[to Ukraine]and all the events[beyond it]I would seem very simplistic and childish to Mr. Lavrov today.” she said.
South Africa has little trade with Russia, but a worldview favored by China and Russia that seeks to undo perceived U.S. hegemony in favor of a “multipolar” world with more diffuse geopolitical power. I am defending
Lavrov said the military exercises were transparent and that Russia, China and South Africa provided all relevant information.
South Africa’s military said last week that the exercises were “a way to strengthen the already prosperous ties between South Africa, Russia and China”.
Russian TASS reported on Monday Russian warships armed with new-generation hypersonic cruise weapons will participate in the training.
Mr. Lavrov was on a visit ahead of a summit between Russia and Africa in July. There was no official comment from the Ukrainian embassy, but officials said they had asked the South African government to help advance Ukraine’s peace plan.
Pandor said South Africa would not be dragged to one side, accusing the West of ignoring the following issues while blaming Russia: Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
“South Africa has consistently expressed its readiness to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the (African) continent and around the world,” Pandor said.
Reported by Carien Du Plessis, Anait Miridzhanian, Alexander Winning, Estelle Shirbon, and Steve Holland. Written by Tim Cox.Edited by Timothy Heritage, Philippa Fletcher and Grant McCool
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