Mbeki address to French parliament

18th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 18 (AFP) - South African President Thabo Mbeki was due to address the French parliament Tuesday after holding talks on trade with French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on the second day of a state visit to France.

PARIS, Nov 18 (AFP) - South African President Thabo Mbeki was due to address the French parliament Tuesday after holding talks on trade with French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on the second day of a state visit to France.

Earlier he met with the Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, and the two men discussed opportunities for cooperation between Paris and Johannesburg notably in the water and sanitation sectors, Mbeki's spokesman said.

Mbeki said South Africa had made great strides in improving public services, but admitted that "there are still serious deficits in technical and human resource capacity which inhibit our ability to deliver a better life to our people."

His speech to the National Assembly was expected to focus on social and economic development in Africa, including efforts to bolster investment in the world's poorest continent and to stamp out poverty and illiteracy.

The South African president, making his fourth trip to France this year, arrived in Paris on Monday with a full agenda focused on bilateral economic relations, global trade liberalization and African development.

France was South Africa's ninth-largest export market in 2002, having imported more than USD 1 billion (EUR 850 million) in goods and services.

France was also the ninth biggest foreign investor in South Africa in 2002, pouring more than USD 448 million nto South Africa's economy.

Mbeki met with parliamentary leaders - National Assembly speaker Jean-Louis Debre and Senate president Christian Poncelet - before addressing the National Assembly at 4:30 pm.

The South African president is travelling with a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin and executives from key state-owned companies.

On Monday, he held talks with French President Jacques Chirac, after which the two hailed their close ties and converging opinions on everything from the Iraq war to the struggle for peace in Ivory Coast.

Chirac reiterated his support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), an African initiative to bolster investment in the world's poorest continent and promote good governance.

"France wants to be your best friend in the new struggle that you have undertaken - the African Renaissance," Chirac told Mbeki, one of the chief architects of NEPAD, at a state dinner.

"The peoples of Africa must find their place in a globalized world from which they feel excluded," the French leader added.

Mbeki will also deliver a speech to the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that is expected to focus on NEPAD.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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