President Cyril Ramaphosa at the closing of the BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre on Friday. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency/ANA
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa broke his silence on the US and China and vowed the US would not dictate “who our friends should be”. He also confirmed a Russian nuclear deal was not on the cards.

Ramaphosa was addressing the media after the 10th BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg yesterday.

He made his comments after a question about his relationship with China and its possible alienation of the US.

“All of us are countries that safeguard our sovereignty. We choose who we want to be associated with. We respect each other’s sovereignty and independence. We should not be told who our friends and enemies should be,” he said.

“We chose to be part of BRICS because that relationship is underpinned by principles of solidarity, working together for the mutual benefit of us all.”

t became evident that the summit had strengthened South Africa’s relationship with China. Ramaphosa sang the country’s praises for its commitment to assist in skills development and to help “mitigate the risk and seize opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

“China’s relationship with South Africa is a mutually beneficial relationship. It is a win-win relationship,” he said.

He said the Brics countries agreed to support the centrality of the UN and the Security Council as well as the World Trade Organisation, and to ensure that all countries continue to practice multilateralism and equal trade and investment.

Ramaphosa admitted that the nuclear deal formed part of his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin but he was adamant that South Africa was not ready for it. “Not now, maybe later,” he said.

“We have huge financial constraints and we are not ready for a nuclear deal. There were no hidden agendas in our discussions with President Putin.

“I explained our circumstances to him and told him we wanted to concentrate on renewable energy,” he said.