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US ambassador to SA hauled over coals by Pandor over Russia claims

Picture: Katlholo Maifadi/DIRCO

Picture: Katlholo Maifadi/DIRCO

Published May 13, 2023


The US ambassador to South Africa has been hauled over the coals by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor after summoning him to her office following his remarks over allegations of arms sales to Russia.

Pandor called Reuben Brigety, the US ambassador to South Africa, after she had expressed unhappiness with his conduct.

The department of international relations said Pandor had expressed her displeasure at how Brigety handled the issue.

The minister said there were diplomatic channels where such issues are handled and not in the way Brigety handled it.

“Dirco finds this behaviour by the US ambassador to South Africa puzzling and at odds with the mutually beneficial and cordial relationship that exists between the United States of America and South Africa.

“Following today’s meeting, ambassador Reuben Brigety admitted that he crossed the line and apologised unreservedly to the government and the people of South Africa,” said the department on Friday.

Meanwhile the Department of Defence welcomed the inquiry set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the Russian vessel that allegedly loaded arms.

The department said the inquiry, to be led by a retired judge, would help it to put out its case before a competent panel.

It said the inquiry would end all speculation and allegations about what happened last December when the Russian ship docked in the Western Cape.

“The inquiry will offer the department an opportunity to ventilate its side of the story with concrete evidence, and deal with allegations surrounding the purpose of such a visit in front of a competent officer of the law instead of hearsay or speculation,” said the department.

The comment by the department comes as more political parties demand answers from the government on what happened during the docking of the Russian ship.

They warned that if relations between South Africa and the US were fractured it would affect trade relations.

The US is South Africa’s second largest trading partner after China.

The State Department in the US has also welcomed the inquiry set up by Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa announced the inquiry after US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety publicly announced that the country was supplying arms to Russia to fight its war in Ukraine.

It said the Russian ship had loaded arms and ammunition in Cape Town.

But the government said there was no evidence to back this up.

Several Cabinet ministers have come out to denounce the comments by the US ambassador saying he had gone against established protocol in diplomatic circles and not respecting the host country.

They said what he has done was unprecedented and was not heard of in the past.

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