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SA ready to help with two-state solution in Middle East

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President Jacob Zuma met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Pretoria on Wednesday, where he pledged South Africa’s support for a two-state solution to the situation in the Middle East.

“The only way to everlasting peace lies in frank and genuine negotiations between Palestinians and the state of Israel with the two-state solution being the ultimate goal,” Zuma said.

“South Africa is ready to assist with this process.”

Zuma said he and Abbas agreed that continued settlement construction in occupied Palestinian land was undermining the prospects for such a solution, as envisaged by the United Nations and the wider international community.

“In this regard, I have appointed two special envoys, former minister Dr Zola Skweyiya and former deputy minister Dr Aziz Pahad to engage on this matter with the state of Palestine and other relevant stakeholders in the Middle East region and the world at large.”

The presidents also agreed on ways to strengthen bilateral ties between South Africa and Palestine, and discussed how South Africa could support the struggle of the Palestinian people.

Three bilateral agreements were signed on Wednesday.

These were for the establishment of a joint commission of co-operation; a memorandum of understanding on political consultations for the two governments to meet regularly about matters of common concern; and a co-operation in higher education and training agreement.

“We have agreed that the two ministers of international relations and co-operation and foreign affairs will convene the inaugural meeting of the joint commission during 2015,” Zuma said.

“The people of South Africa and Palestine have a strong bond built in the trenches of struggle.

“We want to build even stronger relations and co-operation based on that historical relationship.”

Later on Wednesday, the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo, symbolising unbreakable bonds of friendship between the people of South Africa and Palestine, would be bestowed on Abbas. SAPA

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