South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses new members of the African National Congress during an election campaign ahead of the 2024 general elections, at the Nelson Mandela Community Youth Centre in Chatsworth township, north of Durban, on May 14, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
JOHANNESBURG – The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Monday that its army chief, Lawrence Mbatha, was in Moscow for a bilateral meeting, where he will visit Russian military academies and hold talks with officials.
"It must be noted that South Africa has military-to-military bilateral relations with various countries in the continent and beyond," the SANDF said in a statement, adding that the meeting in Russia was planned well in advance.
Earlier on Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country's non-aligned position did not favor Russia over other states and reiterated its call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.
Brigety was summoned on Friday to meet South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor and he apologized "unreservedly" to the government and the people of South Africa, according to a foreign ministry statement
Ramaphosa made the comments in a weekly presidential newsletter. Last week, the United States alleged that weapons were loaded onto Russian ship Lady R from a naval base in Cape Town late last year, which sparked a diplomatic row.
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South African officials swiftly rejected claims made by the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, who also said senior US officials had "profound concerns" over South Africa's professed policy of non-alignment and neutrality over the Ukraine crisis.
South Africa would continue to honor international agreements and treaties to which it is a signatory and its approach to US allegations of arms shipment would abide by them, he added.
Ramaphosa's office has said no concrete evidence has been provided to support the claims made by the ambassador, but that an inquiry led by a retired judge would look in to them.
Several ministers, including the one responsible for arms control, a foreign ministry spokesman and the communications minister have said South Africa had not approved any arms shipment to Russia in December.
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Brigety was summoned on Friday to meet South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor and he apologized "unreservedly" to the government and the people of South Africa, according to a foreign ministry statement.