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SA envoy to extend Middle East stay

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South Africa’s two special envoys sent to the Middle East earlier this year to help seek an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict, will remain in their posts up to mid-2015, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question, Zuma said he appointed former minister Zola Skweyiya and former deputy minister Aziz Pahad in July, and sent them to the region to convey his grave concern at the bloodshed and loss of life.

“During their meetings with the authorities they met in the Middle East, a request was made for South Africa to remain engaged in efforts to resolve the decades-long conflict.”

A way-forward strategy document had been developed, “which focuses on our strength in negotiations, reconciliation and unity”.

This would be implemented by the special envoys in the next few months.

“The way-forward strategy document will be implemented by the special envoys during the next few months, ending on 31 August 2015, as the special envoys have now been appointed for a period of one year, that is September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015.

On the cost of the envoys’ mission, Zuma said the amount spent so far included R2.9 million on goods and services, and R494,076 on compensation and salaries. SAPA

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