South African President (SA) Cyril Ramaphosa discussed trade, climate and energy with US President Joe Biden on Friday during a meeting at the White House during Ramaphosa’s working visit to the US .
The presidents also discussed relations with Russia.
Biden, who has led an international coalition to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the nearly seven-month war in Ukraine, wants South Africa’s help in efforts that include forcing Moscow to sell its oil to lower than market rates. Ramaphosa resisted joining Washington’s campaign against Moscow for the war in Ukraine.
US-SA relations I Joe Biden and Kamala Harris meet Cyril Ramaphosa in the United States
“The world’s most pressing challenges”
After a jovial salute to the press, the two leaders spoke privately in the Oval Office for more than an hour on topics including trade, climate and energy, the White House said.
They pledged to address many of the “world’s most pressing challenges on which we share our concerns, including the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and its negative consequences for food security in Africa,” the White House said.
Biden also announced $45 million in funding for an $8.5 multinational venture aimed at accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired power generation in South Africa.
The additional U.S. funding for the Just Energy Transition Partnership comes at a time when falling natural gas and oil exports from Russia and Ukraine have boosted South African coal and set back targets decarbonization of one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world.
Meeting between Presidents Ramaphosa and Biden: Sherwin Bryce-Pease
In recent weeks, Biden and his aides have stepped up their engagements with African countries as they grew wary of investments and diplomacy from rivals Russia and China on the continent.
Ramaphosa has resisted calls to directly criticize Russia, instead opposing the use of force in general. In March, he blamed NATO’s eastward expansion for the instability and said conflicts should be resolved through UN mediation rather than Western-led sanctions that hurt ” spectator countries.
South Africa was one of 17 African countries to abstain in the United Nations (UN) vote condemning Russia’s assault.
“Our position on this is respected, it is known and recognised,” Ramaphosa told reporters after the meeting. “It is clear that the conflict must be resolved. Our view is that it can best be resolved through dialogue and negotiations.
Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) party, which has governed South Africa since the end of white minority rule in 1994, had close ties to the former Soviet Union, which trained and supported anti -apartheid.
However, South Africa still enjoys high diplomatic clout among Russia’s rivals in the West relative to its economic size since its peaceful transition to democracy.
Last month, during a visit to South Africa, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington would not dictate Africa’s choices after pledging to “do things differently”. to former President Donald Trump’s insulting remarks about African countries.
A bill passed by the US House of Representatives in April would bolster US efforts to counter Russian influence in Africa.
“We expressed our discomfort and our opposition,” Ramaphosa said in a video uploaded to Twitter. “We shouldn’t be told by anyone we associate with and we should never be put in positions where we have to choose who our friends are.”
Africans are often indignant at being the scene of competition between China, Russia and the Western order. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated long-standing rivalry over Africa’s natural resources, trade and security ties.
War and inflation put pressure on South Africa, where half the population lived below the poverty line even before the war dried up Russia’s grain and fertilizer exports and Ukraine.
Biden is expected to welcome more continental leaders in December, when ANC members also decide to keep Ramaphosa at the helm of their party.
Introducing President Ramaphosa’s State Visit to the United States with Sherwin Bryce-Pease