French foreign minister to visit South Africa

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French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe will arrive Thursday in South Africa for a two-day visit, the South African foreign ministry said Monday amid a period of touchy relations.

The visit comes eight months after South African President Jacob Zuma made a state visit to France during which both countries politely ignored their differences over the Ivory Coast political crisis.

Paris drew Pretoria's ire for its helicopter attacks on former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, whose stand-off with current leader Alassane Ouattara South Africa wanted to resolve diplomatically.

The countries have also been at odds over NATO's bombing of Libya, which South Africa voted for at the UN Security Council but then sharply criticised, saying it was being used as a guise for regime change.

But Pretoria sought to emphasise common ground Monday.

"South Africa and France share a common vision of a world where multilateralism, international law and the conduct of relations between states on the basis of equity and fairness provide the foundation for building a more peaceful and prosperous world," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Juppe will meet with South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in Pretoria and give a speech in Johannesburg on "The new world governance".

In March, the two countries signed a deal for a billion euros in financing for South African infrastructure projects from the French Development Agency.

They also signed agreements on technical cooperation in nuclear energy. South Africa is looking to add 7,800 megawatts of nuclear power to its grid by 2030.

© 2011 AFP

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