Ties between the United States and South Africa are strong and set to become stronger under an agreement signed last month in Washington.
The agreement creates a special forum that will conduct a strategic dialogue to expand mutual cooperation across a broad range of our two nations' mutual interests, including health, education, food security, energy and nuclear non-proliferation. It will build on bilateral cooperation already under way through the U.S.-South Africa Business Council and other groups.
The U.S. establishes such dialogues with valued partners. South Africa is Africa's largest economy and a key player in the region as a leader in organizations such as the African Union and Southern Africa Development Community. The U.S. has signed a similar agreement with Nigeria and is expected to do the same soon with Angola.
Energy issues and disarmament are key concerns for both of our nations. The signing ceremony took place as leaders from around the world were meeting to agree on improving the security of nuclear materials. As a leader in this field, South Africa drew praise as one of the few nations to voluntarily disband its atomic weapons program. Moving forward, the U.S. and South Africa will work more closely on the peaceful development of nuclear power.
South Africa's leadership in these and other issues such as HIV/AIDS is critical to the prosperity and security of the South African people, to Africa and the world.