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ANC insists US ambassador has apologised for Russian arms claim

Fikile Mbalula gesturing.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula briefs members of the media. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published May 17, 2023


The ANC has reiterated that US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety has apologised over the Russian ship fiasco and the two sides agreed to another meeting with the party’s structure on international relations.

Brigety met with ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula at Luthuli House on Wednesday after last week’s dramatic events that saw relations between South Africa and the US strained.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a meeting where they discussed the matter after Brigety alleged South Africa was arming Russia.

Pandor had called Brigety to her office.

The ANC said the meeting with Brigety went well.

“The ambassador reiterated his apology as conveyed by comrade Naledi Pandor, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation in the Republic,” said ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri.

“The meeting discussed the importance of the relationship between the people of South Africa and the people of the United States of America. Whilst there may points of divergence on certain points we remain committed to diplomatic engagements to resolve challenges on our shared interests. The meeting agreed to a follow-up bilateral meeting with the ANC’s NEC sub-committee on international relations,” she said.

Mbalula said they remain of the view that all conflicts should be resolved through dialogue.

He said they did not support the conduct of Brigety who went public with his allegations without using proper diplomatic channels.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this week that he will lead a delegation of six African leaders to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in a bid to find a settlement.

The African leaders will travel to Russia and Ukraine on a date yet to be confirmed.

Mbalula said they did not want diplomats to veer off the channels available when they want to raise issues with their host country.

“The ANC remains firm in its view that conflicts should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. We totally reject gunboat diplomacy,” said Mbalula.

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