Thabo Mbeki to 'compare notes' with George Bush

An African agenda for the July meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations is to be canvassed when President Thabo Mbeki meets United States President George Bush in Washington next week.

Bush extended an invitation to Mbeki a few weeks ago for talks at the White House, partly to discuss the upcoming summit at Gleneagles in Scotland from July 6 to 8, Mbeki’s spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said in Pretoria on Friday.

The two leaders are to meet “for several hours” next Wednesday—their third such meeting, Khumalo said.

One of the issues to be discussed is conflict resolution and peacekeeping in African countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, and what the G8 can do to help.

The two men will also focus on the current round of global trade negotiations, support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, aid for developing countries, and international backing for Africa’s struggle against HIV/Aids.

“The issue of HIV/Aids will be one of the key issues—how we can work with the US in tackling this scourge,” Khumalo said.

Mbeki will arrive in the US next Tuesday and return directly after his meeting with Bush to attend the World Economic Forum’s African summit in Cape Town.

Current G8 chair Britain has set African development high on the agenda for the July summit—including doubling aid to the continent and debt cancellation.

HIV/Aids assistance and debt relief was also discussed at a meeting between Bush and former South African president Nelson Mandela at the White House last week.

South Africa is the only African country invited to participate in a discussion on climate change and the world economy at the G8 summit on July 7. The following day, Mbeki will be among several African leaders attending the summit discussions.

“We think this is very significant—it underscores the importance these countries attach to South Africa, not only in African but also in world affairs,” Khumalo said.

It was important, he added, for Mbeki to “compare notes” with leaders like Bush prior to the summit.

In a statement earlier this week, the White House said Bush looked forward to discussing with Mbeki “their common concern for global security, conflict resolution in Africa, economic development, trade and investment, and fighting HIV/Aids in Africa”.
- Sapa

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