International relations

Africa, South America strengthen ties

28 September 2009

Closer ties between Africa and South America will contribute to the development of both regions, South African President Jacob Zuma said at the second Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island, Venezuela on the weekend.

Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union Commission, told the summit that African countries were ready to play their part in the construction of a new South-South cooperation model with Latin America.

Heads of state from 61 countries 49 from Africa and 12 from South America attended the two-day summit, under the theme, "Closing gaps, opening up opportunities."

The summit ended on Sunday with the approval of a declaration and action plan covering climate change and the building of alternative financial mechanisms to counter the effect of the global economic crisis and help stave off future crises.

Food security was a major topic at the summit, with Venezuela signing an agreement with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization to help build irrigation infrastructure, donate certified seeds and train staff in African countries, as well as provide grants for Africans to study in Venezuela.

On the sidelines of the summit, Venezuela signed and oil agreement with South Africa, and an agreement with Sierra Leone to form a joint mining company.

The summit also called for reform of the UN Security Council, in which China, France, Russia, the UK and the US are permanent members with veto power.

The summit countries called for "greater participation of developing countries in South America and Africa ... in order to correct the current imbalance and make [the Security Council] a more democratic, transparent, representative, effective and legitimate organisation that responds to the new political realities."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stressed the need to translate words into actions, saying the idea of integrating South America and Africa had to be given "strategic vision and feasibility" with the structuring and implementation of a working agenda for the period 2010-2020.

The summit, he said, was "a vital mechanism, it's the union of South America with Africa ... We'll prove that we are a big power, and that the union of these two powers, South America and Africa, will contribute to what [Simon] Bolivar called the equilibrium of the world."

Source: BuaNews-Xinhua


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