CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA -- (Marketwired) -- 05/21/13 -- I am pleased to have undertaken a State Visit to South Africa to reaffirm the unique friendship between this country and Canada, and to look ahead to our bright future.
I would also like to say what a privilege it has been to be accompanied by Canadian parliamentarians and an accomplished delegation of public- and private-sector leaders in the fields of business, education, innovation, social justice and development.
During my visit, I had the honour of meeting with the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma.
We spoke of the deep friendship between our two countries, rooted in Canada's principled opposition to the past apartheid order and strengthened by our commitment to shared values and to democracy, human freedom and the rule of law.
To highlight Canada's appreciation of South Africa's perseverance and dedication to the realization of democratic principles and a democratic state, we paid a visit to the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum in Cape Town and we will visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg tomorrow.
Both experiences, I'm sure, will provide moving and powerful reminders of humanity's capacity for cruelty and ignorance, which we must never forget.
On behalf of all Canadians, I also conveyed best wishes for good health to the first President of free South Africa, His Excellency Nelson Mandela, who is an honorary Companion of the Order of Canada.
President Zuma and I also spoke about the potential for increasing ties between Canada and South Africa in business, investment and, particularly, international education and science co-operation.
To emphasize our potential in the latter area, I held a panel discussion with faculty and students of the universities of Cape Town, the Western Cape, Stellenbosch, the Technology University of the Cape Peninsula and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
The discussion focused on the Square Kilometre Array Telescope-a wonderful example of current international co-operation. Inspired by this major project, President Zuma and I also discussed the prospects of closer ties between Canada and South Africa in science, technology and education.
I am also looking forward to celebrate the strength of the Canada-South Africa trade and investment relationship during a networking business luncheon at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Our two countries have significant existing and potential ties in mining, energy, transportation, agri-food, engineering, and services.
The success of the Canadian-designed Gautrain is a wonderful example of a world class, rapid-rail public transport system. It demonstrates both the quality of South African infrastructure and the strength and expertise of Canadian technology.
My visit will underline the strengths of our respective economies and lay the foundations for future commercial exchanges to bolster growth and build confidence in Canada and South Africa as investment destinations.
I also plan to highlight during my visit the ongoing and successful process of annual bilateral consultations between our two countries.
I am especially grateful to President Zuma, the government and the people of South Africa for the warm welcome accorded to my wife Sharon, to our delegation and to me during this visit.
I am convinced that the State Visit will significantly strengthen the deep friendship between Canada and South Africa in such a way as to open the door more widely for bilateral, commercial and people-to-people exchanges.
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