By Peter Fabricius
Washington says major disagreements between the United States and South Africa on issues such as Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Iran, land reform and trade tariffs will not diminish America’s commitment to helping this country.
US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said, as he ended a trip to South Africa last week, that relations between the two countries were strong enough to overcome these differences.
And indeed it seems that relations will need to be strong as more differences could be looming, on possible increases in US import tariffs on South African vehicles and over Washington’s request to Pretoria to extradite the former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang.
Sullivan told journalists that US assistance to South Africa – particularly the huge Pepfar programme which has provided treatment to some 17 million South Africans suffering from AIDS – was the “bedrock” of relations between the two countries.
This assistance would not be affected by differences over foreign policy or other issues.
He reiterated the view of US assistant secretary of state for Africa Tibor Nagy that the US was “disappointed” with South Africa for voting against a recent US-sponsored resolution in the UN Security Council dismissing the re-election of Venezuelan President NicolásMaduro and calling for fresh elections.
Sullivan said the crisis in Venezuela was a continent-wide humanitarian problem – including a lack of food, water and medicine in the country – that had also spilt over into Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Guyana with 1.3 million Venezuelan refugees having fled to neighbouring Columbia alone.
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