South Africa

Rishi Sunak and Cyril Ramaphosa agree to take UK-South Africa ties to ‘next level’

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed opportunities to boost trade exports on Wednesday, with the leaders agreeing that this generation must take their nations’ partnership “to the next level”.

The Prime Minister met Mr Ramaphosa at Downing Street as part of his state visit to the UK, the first by a foreign dignitary during the reign of King Charles III.

The leaders looked towards creating a deeper partnership “both bilaterally and through the Commonwealth” during their talks on Wednesday while hailing the “historic” ties between their nations, No 10 said.

They also attended a working lunch alongside cabinet ministers Grant Shapps, Kemi Badenoch and Steve Barclay.

Mr Sunak said it was a “historic state visit” and “South Africa and the UK are obviously very strong partners, allies, friends and we share so many of the same objectives — notably transitioning to clean energy while creating jobs and opportunity for our citizens”.

Meanwhile, Mr Ramaphosa said he wanted to “deepen and broaden” links with the UK.  “For us, this is a great opportunity to deepen and broaden our links, links that are historic in many, many ways,” the President said.

The state visit was marked by the UK and South Africa signing an agreement to strengthen their health partnership to help prevent future pandemics.

As part of the agreement, British and South African institutions will collaborate on nine research projects on issues including health systems, mental health, surgery and HIV, said the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The two countries are also working together to tackle climate change, with the UK contributing funding to the Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa to help the country decarbonise its economy.

The announcement came as the South African President visited the Francis Crick Institute biomedical research facility in London with the Earl of Wessex.

The two men also toured Kew Gardens.  At Kew, the President and Prince Edward saw plants on display in the Temperate House, home to more than 10,000 rare and endangered plants from around the world, including South Africa.

Mr Ramaphosa was presented with seeds from Leucospermum conocarpodendron — the South African flower known as the tree pincushion — which has been decreasing in numbers on the Western Cape.

The gift marks a plan to open a South African National Seed Bank for Wild Species next year, beginning a transfer of duplicate seeds held at the Millennium Seed Bank.

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