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SA, France agree on Central African Republic

14 October 2013, 17:14

Johannesburg - South Africa and France agree that intervention is needed in the Central African Republic (CAR) to help stabilise the country, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.

"The foreign minister of France gave a report... that the problem [in the country] is getting worse. Even the question of religion among the people is beginning to set in," Zuma told reporters at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

"We [South Africa] agreed that we need to do something and act quickly. We have committed... that we are going to be ready to be part of the solution to help the Central African Republic come back to its normality."

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande, Zuma did not specify the role South Africa would play in the intervention.

Zuma said an interim government had been given 18 months to hold elections after a coup.

"It is clear that the work towards elections cannot happen because of the situation. It, therefore, needs urgent intervention."

He said any intervention needed to be done within the frameworks of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).

Fifteen South African soldiers died in March after clashing with a group of Seleka rebels in Bangui, CAR.

Speaking in French, Hollande said there needed to be more intervention by African countries in conflicts on their own continent.

African countries were beginning to have the capacity to deal with these conflicts themselves.

Hollande said the situation in CAR was urgent.

"We thought it necessary to mobilise the AU and the UN security council to... [have] a force to help the Central African Republic reach stability."

Trade and co-operation

Zuma and Hollande also discussed trade and co-operation between South Africa and France.

Zuma said France was a reliable development partner for South Africa.

"Since our democracy in 1994, France has extensively supported our reconstruction and development efforts. We appreciate the ongoing development support."

Hollande said France had stood by the South Africans oppressed under apartheid and it still stood by the country "in its years of development".

He said a transport agreement was reached to supply the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) with more than 3 000 train carriages.

"This is so that we can share technology, share jobs, and share the same ambition for transport."

He said the relationship between the two countries was not just about trade, but also about French companies setting up in South Africa.

"It is about young South Africans being hired by these companies."

Two agreements were signed by ministers from both countries.

One was a declaration of intent for co-operation within the context of a G20 action plan on agriculture and the other on an agricultural education project.



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