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Ramaphosa expected to discuss the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas on his State Visit to Qatar

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Lerato Mbhiza

President Cyril Ramaphosa will undertake a State Visit to Qatar on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel has continued the bombardment of Gaza in retaliation for the 7 October Hamas attack where about 1400 Israelis were killed and scores kidnapped. However, more than 10 000 Palestinians, including children have been killed by the Israeli army and thousands displaced from the Gazi strip.

The President’s visit to the Middle Eastern nation is at the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar.

The State Visit will form part of the two days of engagement between the governments of South Africa and Qatar on 14 and 15 November.

“The governments of South Africa and Qatar share deep concerns regarding the conflict, notably the unfolding human catastrophe in Palestine, violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, the large-scale loss of life and the ongoing hostilities, especially in Gaza.

“The leaders will discuss respective efforts to ensure that the conflict does not escalate to other parts of the region and that a peaceful resolution is found. South Africa also welcomes Qatar’s mediation efforts in this crisis,” said Ramaphosa.

A wide range of issues are also expected to be under discussion with the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, Trade, Industry and Competition; Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; Mineral Resources and Energy, Defence, Basic Education and the Minister in the Presidency accompanying the President.

The two countries have shared diplomatic relations for at least 30 years and the visit will be President Ramaphosa’s first visit to the Middle Eastern nation in his capacity as Head of State.

“During their meeting, Ramaphosa and His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani are expected to deliberate on various geopolitical issues that are currently impacting the world. 

“Both parties are committed to enhancing their economic ties and focusing on improving economic relations including trade, investment, and tourism,”  said Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya. 

Citizens of many countries have come out in large numbers in protest against the atrocities and human rights violations in the bombardment of Gaza where children and new-borns haven’t been spared the wrath of the war.

The United Nations (UN), Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders and other organisations have warned of the dire situation across the enclave.

In a bid to deepen trade relations, a high-level delegation of South African business people are expected to join the President on the visit.

According to the Presidency, Qatar became South Africa’s fifth largest trading partner in the Middle East with exports to that country reaching some $206 million in 2022. In the same year, imports from Qatar reached $252 million.

“The bulk of the exports were in the manufacturing sector, accounting for about 56% of total exports. South Africa has witnessed a surge in its imports from Qatar between 2017 and 2022, primarily due to the import of petroleum oils,” the statement read.

“The President will be joined by a high-level business delegation and is expected to engage the Qatari business community to explore opportunities for cooperation in areas such as the creative industries, energy, mining, agro-processing, retail, healthcare, tourism, and shipbuilding.

“South Africa is a significant investor in Qatar, especially in the petrochemical-related sector, with a total investment of approximately USD 8.7 billion.

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