Cape Town - A 20-member Department of Defence (DoD) delegation is en-route to Washington to attend the two-day 19th SA-US Defence Committee meeting at which they will engage the US Department of Defence on a range of defence-to-defence and military co-operation matters.
DoD spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said the South Africans would be led by the acting Secretary of Defence, Thobekile Gamede, supported by Chief of Staff of the Defence Force Lieutenant-General Michael Ramantswana.
The two are accompanied by a range of senior officials and subject experts of the Defence Department.
Dlamini said the 18th SA-US Defence Committee was hosted by South Africa in 2019, in Pretoria, and prior to that, the parties met in 2018 at Fort Hamilton, New York, as guests of the New York National Guard.
Due to the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic which limited international travel, the engagements could not continue.
Dlamini said, however, the 19th engagement would be “the continuation and consolidation of the Strategic Defence Relationship and partnership between the two countries”.
The development came as South Africa’s relationship with Russia was in the spotlight following US ambassador Reuben E Brigety’s claims that South Africa supplied Russia with equipment in its war with Ukraine.
In response to that accusation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that while South Africa would not be drawn “into a contest between global powers” over Ukraine in spite of having faced “extraordinary pressure” to pick sides, the allegations would be investigated.
Last month, Chief of the SA Army Lieutenant-General Lawrence Mbatha made a trip to Russia after receiving an invitation from his Russian counterpart to make a goodwill visit.
During this visit, SANDF spokesperson Brigadier Andries Mahapa said that Mbatha had staff talks with military officials.
Mahapa also said that the SANDF receives numerous military delegations to the country and sends its delegations to other countries to discuss matters of mutual interest.