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

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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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