South African President Jacob Zuma will host Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas this week as he arrives in the country on a working visit.
In a statement issued by the Presidency on Tuesday, Presidency spokesman Dr Bongani Ngqulunga said that Zuma would host Abbas on Wednesday as they meet to hold bilateral discussions.
The two presidents would be expected to “discuss a broad range of issues, including the current initiatives aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestine stand off,” said Ngqulunga.
Abbas’s visit, said Ngqulunga, “comes at a time of heightened tension between Palestinians and Israelis, increased construction of illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, and escalating frustration among Palestinians due to lack of visible progress on the Middle East Peace Process.”
Abbas, who has twice visited South Africa, in 2014 on a State visit and in 2015 for the African Union Summit, is expected to brief Zuma on efforts around intra-Palestine reconciliation, and discuss the Paris Middle East Conference which was initially scheduled for May 30 next week but which has been postponed.
The two countries have bilateral relationships that go back to the anti-apartheid struggle, strengthened by South Africa’s recognition of the Palestinian state in 1995. Since then, a number of bilateral agreements have been signed between the two countries according to the Joint Commission of Co-operation that was established in 1995.
In April this year, Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau unveiled a huge statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela in the centre of Ramallah City as a symbol of friendship between the two cities.[Source: African News Agency]