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Finnish President Begins Official Visit to South Africa


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“It is most important that we don’t find ourselves living on a globe which is divided with very deep differences,” President Niinistö said alongside South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö began an official visit to the African continent on Tuesday by meeting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria.

The agenda for the meeting between the two leaders included security amid the current geopolitical situation, global challenges such as climate change and food security, as well as bilateral relations between Finland and South Africa.

At a joint press conference alongside Ramaphosa, Niinistö emphasised the importance of maintaining close global relationships.

“It is most important that we don’t find ourselves living on a globe which is divided with very deep differences,” Niinistö said, adding that he felt that the discussion he had with his South African counterpart was a move towards their respective countries understanding each other better.

Ramaphosa said that South Africa’s liberation from the apartheid regime decades ago would not have been possible without the international support provided by Finland and other Nordic countries.

“Finland is a valued partner of South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.

Niinistö tweeted about his meeting with the South African president on Tuesday.

“In the Current geopolitical situation, it was very valuable to have a chance to exchange views with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Finland and South Africa have excellent relations and our cooperation is deepening,” Niinistö said in the tweet.

Putin question looms

However, Niinistö’s visit to South Africa came as speculation has grown over whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the upcoming BRICS conference in the country in August — and how South Africa would react.

News agency Reuters has reported(siirryt toiseen palveluun) that even though South Africa has good relations with Russia, it may be compelled to arrest Putin due to an International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment issued in March.

Ramaphosa did not directly answer a journalist’s question about what South African authorities plan to do if Putin attends this summer’s BRICS meeting.

“Having heard what the ICC has said in relation to President Putin, that matter is under consideration and discussion. I’ve often said when I’m asked this question — when the matter is finalised, we will be able to tell everyone, hopefully including yourselves, what our posture is going to be on all this,” Ramaphosa told reporters.

BRICS is an acronym for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, and was coined by a Golden Sachs economist in 2001 to describe the five fastest-growing economies at the time.

Niinistö is headed to Johannesburg on Wednesday to deliver a speech at the University of Witwatersrand before beginning his state visit to neighbouring Namibia on Thursday.

Source: YLE


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