Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu with the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian. Picture: Jacoline Schoonees/DNS
Pretoria - French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has told South Africans, "France and South Africa will work together to reduce inequality in the world and threats to democracy." 

Le Drian and Minister for International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu clearly enjoy a strong rapport.

"My dear Lindiwe, I have such admiration for your parents who played an enormous part in the liberation of this country," Le Drian said.

"France and South Africa have common commitments to multilateralism and we want to work together to strengthen multilateralism, especially in the UN Security Council," Le Drian said.

Relations between France and South Africa have grown in recent years, particularly since the election of President Emanuel Macron, who is a strong proponent of multilateralism. 

Le Drian participated in the SA-France Forum for Political Dialogue on Thursday in Pretoria. It is the first time the Forum has been elevated to the Ministerial level, giving greater impetus to the strengthening relations.

Minister Le Drian, who spent 44 years in the French Socialist Party, has previously said that multilateralism is in crisis and that the disintegration of international relations is a reality. It is Le Drian's view that there is an obsession of the big powers with developing areas of influence, which leads to instability and crisis. 

"Multilateralism is only effective if the most powerful accept to use power in lawful frameworks," Le Drian had said at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2017.

But contrary to France's defence of multilateralism and the rule of law, Le Drian claimed earlier this month that the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has the right and legitimacy to organize new elections. 

Agreements were signed during the SA- France Forum in the fields of basic and higher education, space cooperation, and biodiversity. The SA National Space Agency will work with France's Centre National d'etudes Spatiales, and SANParks with Reunion National Park.

South African officials have hailed the fact that under the education agreements students from technology universities in South Africa will be taken to France, trained, and will return to work in universities in South Africa.

Le Drian has a packed three-day program which includes meeting some of the 400 French companies based in South Africa. These companies directly employ over 37,000 local South Africans. Le Drian will visit Sain-Gobain in Midrand which is empowering South African workers in the field of energy saving technologies, providing jobs, training, and skills transfer.

In Cape Town, the Minister will visit an NGO in Khayelitsha called Waves and will announce a grant of R1.58 million from the French Development Agency.

Le Drian will also visit the NGO Jumo which allows Africans to benefit from micro-loans to complete their projects. The French Development Agency has invested US$3 million in Jumo. 

No visit to the Mother City would be complete without a visit to Robben Island. This is Le Drian's first ever visit to South Africa and Robben Island will be a highlight.