Zuma, Bachelet seek Gaza peace

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iol news pic SA Chile forge closer ties EPA A handout picture made available by the South African Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) shows Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (R) being received by South African President Jacob Zuma (L) in Pretoria. EPA/GCIS / SIYABULELA DUDA / HANDOUT

Pretoria - Hostilities between Palestine and Israel took centre stage when President Jacob Zuma met his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet Jeria at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Friday.

“We called our ambassador for consultation. We are in the United Nations Security Council. We have been raising our voice to incentivise the peace negotiations,” said Bachelet after a closed-door session with Zuma.

“For us, what is going on in Gaza is a tragedy. I think enough is enough. We need to look at other measures we can take to really stop this tragedy.”

Last month, Chile recalled its ambassador Jorge Montero from Tel Aviv after condemning what it described as a “worsening of Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip”.

Bachelet said her country, a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, was home to one of the world's largest Palestinian communities outside the Middle East, as well as a sizeable Jewish community.

“We do get along very well. I think Chile and South Africa are good examples to show that people can live together in peace, developing common objectives very well.

“We are looking forward to show those examples,” she said.

Zuma said the Israeli-Palestine conflict was a serious concern for both Pretoria and Santiago.

“We share concern about the developments in the Israeli-Palestine conflict. As South Africa, we reiterate our call on all parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire and to work towards a peaceful settlement,” said Zuma.

Bachelet, who is on a state visit until Sunday, was welcomed at the Union Buildings on Friday morning with a military parade and a resounding 21-gun salute.

She said her visit was a “perfect moment to set a new pace” in bilateral relations between Pretoria and Santiago.

“We truly believe that South Africa and Chile are like-minded countries. We share a lot of different values,” said Bachelet.

“We believe that we can also bring resources from both countries to co-operate trilaterally with less developed countries of Africa, joining efforts and funds. We have a fund for fighting hunger and poverty.”

In a statement the presidency said South Africa was Chile's largest trading partner in Africa. South Africa was one of the largest foreign investors in the Chilean mining sector. South African companies regularly participated in large international mining exhibitions in Chile.

The top exports from South Africa were steel and related products which amounted to 61.6 percent of total exports to the South American country.

Around 37 percent of Chilean exports to Africa were destined for South Africa.

While in South Africa, Bachelet will deliver a keynote address at the 12th Nelson Mandela annual lecture in Cape Town.

She invited Zuma to visit Chile in a bid to foster relations.

“He has agreed and we hope to see him soon over there,” she said.

Bachelet is a former head of the United Nations entity for the empowerment of women and gender equality (UN Women).

Sapa



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