Mali Views Strategic Partnership With Russia in Nuclear Energy Important, Foreign Minister Says

BAMAKO (Sputnik) – Mali considers strategic partnership with Russia to be important both in the field of solar and nuclear energy, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told Sputnik. Construction of a solar power plant recently started in Sanankorobe, a small town near Bamako. The project is being carried out by a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom. Diop noted that the construction of a solar power plant will be extremely important for the country, strengthening its energy production capacity. “A partner like Russia is extremely important. Rosatom was not chosen by chance, it was chosen because of the experience, knowledge and capabilities in this particular area, and having a strategic partner on such an important issue is extremely important for us to be able to fulfill obligations and achieve the desired result,” Diop said. Mali also plans to build a nuclear power plant, which could ensure self-sustaining energy production and meet the needs of the Malian economy and the Malian population in the medium term, the minister added.

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Putin Congratulates Ramaphosa on Reelection as South African President

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Earlier, the country’s African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Patriotic Alliance, and the Inkatha Freedom Party formed a ruling coalition. Cyril Ramaphosa has been reelected as President of South Africa. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Cyril Ramaphosa on his reelection as the president of South Africa, noting his contribution to the development of relations and strategic partnership between the countries, the Kremlin said on Saturday. “Dear Mr. Ramaphosa, please accept our heartfelt congratulations on your reelection as President of the Republic of South Africa. We highly appreciate your personal contribution to the development of strategic partnership relations between our countries, as well as productive Russian-South African cooperation within the UN, BRICS, G20 and other multilateral structures,” the congratulatory telegram reads. Putin added that he looks forward to continuing the constructive dialogue with Ramaphosa and working together on topical issues on the bilateral and international agenda. The Russian leader also expects Ramaphosa to attend BRICS summit in Russia’s city of Kazan on October 22-24. On Friday, a ruling coalition was created in South Africa, which comprises ANC, DA, the Patriotic Alliance, and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

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‘We Wish to See the Two Together in One Room,’ South African FM Says on Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Exclusive On Monday, the South African Foreign Minister discussed ways in which South Africa and other Global South countries could contribute to resolving the conflict in Ukraine during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as part of this year’s BRICS ministerial meeting. South Africa sees direct peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine as its “first prize,” and Pretoria seeks to “create conditions” for that to happen, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, told Sputnik Africa in an exclusive interview on Monday. To reach the peace agreement, the southern African country engages with both leaders, Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the top diplomat noted. “[…] Russia is ready to engage in negotiation, but all the impediments have to be addressed in order for that to happen. So there’s a willingness, and we would like to build on that willingness. As South Africa, what we have said is that we wish to see the two together in one room, and we want to create the conditions for that to happen,” she said. Pandor emphasized that all the meetings with Ukraine on the issue are solely focused on the Ukraine peace plan, and South Africa has “consistently” pointed out that “it’s not good enough.” “We want to see the Russia peace plan. We’ve got to put the two together and see what both are proposing. That’s when you really begin to have peace discussions. Before that, it’s like a workshop,” she concluded. In May, South Africa announced it would not participate in the upcoming so-called Ukraine peace summit, scheduled to be held in Switzerland on June 15-16. Pretoria’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict is in line with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s previous statement: the country aspires to an inclusive and representative global order to enhance multilateral participation and encourage conflict resolution through discussion. For that very reason, the president stated, South Africa participated in an African peace mission to Russia and Ukraine. After Russia started its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, South Africa urged both sides of the conflict to turn to negotiations and find a diplomatic solution.

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Russia-Egypt Cooperation in Education Becoming More Profound, Minister Says

Exclusive The II International Forum of Ministers of Education “Shaping the Future” takes place on June 10-11 in Russia’s Kazan. It brought together representatives of 46 delegations from 39 countries, including those from African countries. Russia-Egypt cooperation in education is increasingly deepening, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Egypt Mohamed Ayman Ashour told Sputnik Africa on the sidelines of the II International Forum of Ministers of Education in Russia’s Kazan. Universities of the two countries are actively collaborating: for example, branches of Russian high schools have been established in the African country, the minister noted. “Also, we discussed together how to increase the number of universities by establishing a new consortium in the new city of Borg El Arab, in the north of Egypt, also to boost other universities from Russia, in order to give good new [educational] programs in Egypt. We discussed the new programs in the new technological universities, how to connect between the technological universities here in Russia and in Egypt,” he said. Russia and Egypt are also discussing the introduction of hard science programs at Egyptian universities to support the technological part of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant in the northern part of the country. “We also started to negotiate and to agree together for the new corporation and protocol between our ministry in Egypt and the Ministry of Higher Education here in Russia, and we are looking forward to the cooperation,” the minister concluded. During the forum, the parties held a meeting where the Minister of Science and Higher Education of Russia, Valery Falkov, noted that Russia highly values the long-standing relationship between the two countries (last year marked the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations), during which “a great deal has been achieved thanks to well-structured relations in the scientific and educational sphere.” In turn, Ashour noted the high level of Russian education, reminding that he is a graduate of the postgraduate program at the Moscow Architectural Institute. Today, there are 118 agreements and memoranda in the field of science and higher education between universities in Russia and Egypt, 56 of which were signed in 2023, and 19 more are planned for this year. Examples of active collaboration between the two countries include the branches of Saint Petersburg State University and Kazan (Volga) Federal University opened in Cairo, where more than 750 students are studying. Cooperation in the scientific sphere is also developing. At the moment, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia is evaluating applications for a new competitive selection of joint applied scientific research projects with African countries, including Egypt. The II International Forum of Ministers of Education is organized by the Ministry of Education of Russia, the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan, and the Foundation for the Support of Humanitarian Sciences “My History.”

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BRICS Supports Multilateralism, ‘Humanity and Its Progress,’ South Africa’s Foreign Minister States

Exclusive Naledi Pandor, the Foreign Minister of South Africa, participated in the BRICS foreign ministers’ conference in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod that was held on Monday and Tuesday. During the meeting, she engaged in discussions with her counterparts from the BRICS member nations on various topics. BRICS supports multilateralism as well as “humanity and its progress,” South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, told Sputnik Africa in an interview on Monday. “As BRICS, we fully support multilateralism. […] We don’t believe that there’s some country in the world that is so great that it must tell all of us what we should do. No, we don’t accept that,” she said. The recent expansion of the bloc is one of the steps to promote multipolarity, and both South Africa and Russia apply this principle in practice. “I’m so happy that we [South Africa] are the ones who introduced the expansion, and Russia is the one who is implementing it practically. So South Africa and Russia are working in a conjoined manner,” she said. Pandor noted that the enlargement was “the second most important big step” that the bloc made after the creation of the New Development Bank. The diplomat also urged reforming the UN so that it could ensure greater security and peace across the globe, since BRICS wants to see an equitable world where there is no inclination to start or escalate wars. “We believe the premier multilateral body is the United Nations. We don’t want to create an alternative to it, but we believe the United Nations must be reformed, it must pay greater attention to development, and it must have the ability to enhance peace and security,” the minister pondered. A striking example that demonstrates the need for changes in the UN is the case of South Africa against Israel’s genocidal actions in Gaza at the International Court of Justice. This legal battle “exposed the inadequacy” of the UN in its “ability to enforce peace and security” and protect civilians. According to Pandor, the reason Pretoria went to court “very early on” after Israel began its military operation in the enclave was to try to prevent genocide. She expressed hope that all nations around the globe will support the case because it concerns humanity and human rights, adding that “we have enough world power to be able to stop it.” Another crucial issue on the BRICS agenda is payments in national currencies. One of the biggest steps on the path to developing an alternative international payment system was the establishment of the BRICS Bank, according to Pandor. She explained that a new system is needed as the current one is rigged against the members of the bloc. “This is a very big agenda item for us as BRICS countries because we believe the current international payment system is skewed against us because it’s so dependent on one currency in the world that when that currency is not available or when we are sanctioned because of it, we do not have access to international trade opportunities,” the South African top diplomat said. Pandor noted that the bloc can learn from the Russia-India example: the two countries already trade in local currencies. However, she warned that since the economies of each BRICS member are different in size and other characteristics, it is important to conduct careful research when creating a common financial framework for the bloc. “So everything must be approached with proper research and very, very well articulated practices which strengthen our economies and not weaken them. […] Every decision you take must be well-informed. It must achieve the results that you want. And it must give us that independence that we desire as the BRICS countries,” the minister explained. Such research is already underway, which Pandor is “very excited” about. BRICS finance ministers and central bank governors are working on the issue and will report at the BRICS summit in Russia’s Kazan in October on what can be done. During the interview, Sputnik Africa also raised the topic of Russia-South Africa relations development in the light of recent elections in the rainbow nation. Pandor stated that the two countries are “very, very good friends” and this will remain after the elections, reminding that Russia and South Africa work closely together in many areas, including water sciences, pharmaceuticals, medical sciences, and space exploration. “Russian businesses have also invested in South Africa, in the fuel sector, in energy, in minerals, and play a very critical role in helping to create jobs for South Africans and to grow our economy. So, we have a very positive relationship, and we’re happy about that,” the minister said. Speaking of elections, she said the ruling African National Congress (ANC) was aware that “a lot of money” had been used to finance some of the country’s new political parties “in an effort to disrupt the ANC and its policy.” “But we came out as the largest party. And so we will influence the future,” Pandor noted. She assured, however, that bilateral relations won’t change, even though the ANC didn’t get the majority during the voting, and that they were moving forward to form a coalition. “We’re not negotiating as a junior partner, but we’re also not being arrogant in the negotiations. But we’re very clear on our foreign policy. You can’t have a South Africa that would be negative or hostile about Russia. Russia played a very important role in the freedom struggle, supporting the liberation movements. There’s no way that with a government led by the ANC that we would have some negative attitude in foreign policy toward Russia,” Pandor stated, adding that the party hopes for Cyril Ramaphosa’s re-election as president. Moreover, Pandor commented on the Ukrainian conflict and strive for peace. The top diplomat noted that her country is trying to “create conditions” for both parties – Russia and Ukraine – to engage in direct talks, adding that all the meetings with Ukraine on the issue have been solely focused on the Ukraine peace plan which has been “consistently” pointed out by South Africa as “not good enough”.

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