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On the political front, President Zuma attended a High Level Meeting on Libya convened by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. Ahead of the UNSG's meeting on Libya, the chairperson of the African Union, President Nguema of Equatorial Guinea announced the AU's support for the National Transitional Council of Libya.
"The NTC wrote to the AU declaring its support for AU processes, and in particular the need to establish an inclusive transitional government, which would be able to take the Libyan seat in the AU. We believe the ground has been cleared for the AU and all of us to support the Libyan people to go forward and implement the processes mentioned in the AU Roadmap, and generally to gradually bring about normalcy in that country. We stand ready to assist in whatever way we can, as part of the AU and the AU,'' said President Zuma on his arrival in Pretoria.
In his statement during the General Debate of the 66th Session held under the Theme "The role of Mediation in Settlement of Disputes by Peaceful means”, the President emphasised, amongst other issues, the need for the independence of the UN from the interests of certain member states, the need for Palestine to be granted its wish to be a member of the United Nations, and also called for support for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, and end to the economic blockade of Cuba.
One of the highlights of the visit was the celebration of the contribution of South Africa to the fight against racism and racial discrimination in the world, through the hosting of a High Level Symposium under the theme "South Africa's contribution to the fight against Racism, Xenophobia and Other related intolerances” in the context of the ANC's Centenary Celebrations in 2012.
The President also participated in the High Level Meeting to Commemorate the Tenth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The Declaration is the outcome of the World Conference Against Racism and related intolerances which was held in Durban in 2001. The programme of action was adopted unanimously by the General Assembly.
The final leg of the President's New York visit entailed leading the South African delegation to the UN Security Council Meeting on Preventative Diplomacy in the context of South Africa's participation as an elected non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
President Zuma co-chaired with the President of Finland, Excellency President Halonen, the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel on Global Sustainability meeting. The meeting concluded successfully with a report submitted to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon.
The President also participated in former US President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative Discussion on Climate Change. South Africa will host the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP17/CMP7) from 28 November to 9 December 2011.
In addition to the normal business of UNGA, the President used the visit to promote economic ties with the United States. In this regard, he paid a visit to the New York Stock Exchange, and ended his visit with a stopover in Houston, Texas where he met with the business community to promote trade and investments as well as education.
In Houston, where he was warmly received, the President addressed the Greater Houston Partnership which was founded in 1989 as a result of the merger of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Economic Development Council and the Houston World Trade Centre Association.
"I am overwhelmed by the positive reception and the high regard with which South Africa is held outside the country. The Texan business community is well informed and impressed about what we are doing as South Africans to create a better life for our people and appreciate the strides South Africa has made since 1994. They see opportunities in the South African economy and we also agree that we should do more to promote business linkages between our companies and American business entities. Opportunities are there to be tapped, to help us create the jobs we need''.
The President welcomed SASOL's investment in the State of Louisiana, where it is to build a gas-to-liquids facility. The project is said to be the first plant in the United States to produce high-quality gas-to-liquids transportation fuels and other products. Sasol will embark on a feasibility study to evaluate the viability of a gas-to-liquids venture in Lake Charles, over the next 18 months. The feasibility study will consider two options of two million tons per annum and a four million tons per annum facility costing up to 10 billion US dollars.
The President also used the visit to boost education, one of the five priorities of government. He was humbled by the awarding of an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters to him by Texas Southern University (TSU) in Houston.
He was awarded the degree for his leadership as well as his passion for education in government and community through the Jacob Zuma RDP Education Trust. The President was also lauded for the new partnership he has facilitated between South Africa, CAMAC International, University of Houston, Texas Southern University and the Jacob G Zuma RDP Education Trust to promote education. The partnership will see some South African students studying at Texas Southern University and the University of Houston.
The TSU honour adds to the following honorary degrees received by the President;■Honorary Doctorate in Law by the University of Zambia, 2009
■Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Fort Hare, 2001
■Honorary Doctorate of Administration from the University of Zululand, 2001
■Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from Medical University of Southern Africa, 2001.
President Zuma was also given an honorary citizenship of the City of Houston and Texas, a move seen as a sign of confidence in South Africa and the progress it is making in the country and world affairs.
The President wishes to see more linkages between United States institutions of higher learning and those of South Africa to promote skills development.
The President has directed relevant Ministers to follow up on the various opportunities created by the visits to New York and Texas.
Issued by Mac Maharaj
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