It was a meeting of old allies when Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa met with his Norwegian counterpart, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, on Tuesday.
Solberg — who is also attending the Partnership on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Forum, currently underway at the Sandton Convention Centre – paid a courtesy call to Deputy President Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings.
Their conversation was dynamic as the two talked about the weather, the historical ties and bilateral relations, and the looming Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline.
Deputy President Ramaphosa was pleased to have met Solberg, whom he last met at the memorial service of former President Nelson Mandela in December.
“I attended the conference yesterday. It’s a very important conference and we are pleased that over 1 200 people from around the world are attending it. The best thing is that they chose us to be the hosts… ” he said, referring to the Partnership on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Forum, which he addressed yesterday.
Expressing gratitude that the Deputy President had made time to meet her, Solberg said the conference is important, as it will allow time to reflect on the health achievements and how far the sector is in terms of implementing the MDGs.
Deputy President Ramaphosa hoped that Norway would continue to support South Africa and other African counties as they race against the 2015 deadline for the MDGs and beyond.
This comes as there are less than 500 days before the deadline for the achievement of the MDGs.
“The next 500 days will be critical for us, particularly as a country, as there is still a lot of work to do,” said the Deputy President.
He extended gratitude to Norway for supporting the country during the struggle towards democracy.
He said due to Norway’s unwavering support and g solidarity then, a special and unique relationship exists between the two countries.
“We continue to value your cooperation and relationship with South Africa … Our victory over apartheid was your victory as well. You were a good friend in times of peace and transformation.”
The deputy president was referring to the fact that the Norwegian government offered moral, practical and diplomatic support to the liberation movement, the trade unions and the churches in their resistance to apartheid.
For her part, Solberg said the long history of cooperation that the two countries share should serve as a “good reminder that we should continue with our cooperation”.
To date, trade relations between South Africa and Norway are governed by the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) – European Free Trade Association (EFTA) free trade agreement.
In 2012, exports between the two countries amounted to R1.915 million, with an annual growth of 13.4%.
Norway is South Africa’s 41st export destination. In 2012, imports amounted to R735 million, thus showing a trade surplus for South Africa.
Source : SAnews.gov.za