South Africa's AU chairmanship to focus on poverty, conflicts

Paris- France (PANA) -- Deputy minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad said here Tuesday that poverty eradication and conflict resolution would be the major focus of South Africa's chairmanship of the African Union.
In an interview with PANA Pahad, who was ending a two-day visit to Paris, said France stood ready to assist in the resolution of conflicts in Africa as well as prop the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
South Africa took over chairmanship of the AU at the recent 38th OAU summit that ushered in the African Union.
Pahad said his discussions with French officials had centred on "how South Africa as chairman of the AU and France, which would host the G-8 summit in 2003, can use their positions to support efforts towards peace and development in Africa.
" According to Pahad a major challenge facing Africa was how to transform the continent from one of the poorest into one that could mobilise its resources to raise the quality of life for the vast majority of its people currently living on less than a dollar a day.
He said a major thrust in South Africa's chairmanship of the AU would be to see how NEPAD could be implemented to reverse poverty levels on the continent as well as foster conflict resolution.
Pahad expressed confidence that following discussions with his French hosts, Paris stood ready as an influential member of the UN Security Council to assist in the resolution of conflicts in Africa.
He further noted that South Africa's efforts to resolve the crisis in the Great Lakes region, notably DR Congo, was bearing fruit, citing the peace agreement signed in Pretoria between Rwanda and DR Congo.
Pahad said positive developments in conflict-prone Angola, Sierra Leone and Sudan were an indication that peace was steadily returning to Africa.
Pahad also talked about growing global awareness that the world was a global village in which instability in one part of the world could impact on another.
"If conflicts in Africa continue and the continent gets poorer, this would impact on developed countries through mass movements of people, international crime syndicates, HIV/AIDS," he warned.
Pahad recalled that the Millennium Summit recognised the need for a new value system, as the rich could not continue to grow richer while the poor got poorer.

06 august 2002 19:56:00

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