German Chancellor discusses Ukraine war in South Africa

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JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s neutral stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine was a major topic of discussion as German Chancellor Olaf Schulz met with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday to conclude a three-nation tour of Africa.

Speaking to reporters in the South African capital, Pretoria, ahead of their private meeting, the two leaders said they would also consider developments on the African continent. The war in Ukraine has been going on for three months and Scholes’ visit has come as oil and food prices have risen around the world, including in Africa.

South Africa has taken a neutral stance on the conflict, refusing to condemn Russia’s actions and calling for talks between the two countries.

Schulz said Russia’s aggression in Ukraine was an important issue for talks with its South African counterpart.

“Obviously a question of great concern to all of us, the war that Russia has imposed on Ukraine, the brutal war, we have to call it that,” Schulz said.

“And for world peace, it is imperative that this war be stopped as soon as possible and that there is an opportunity to defend Ukraine’s integrity and sovereignty,” he said.

Another issue discussed was South Africa’s intention to reduce its reliance on coal-fired power plants. Germany is among the countries that pledged up to $ 8.5 billion last year at the COP26 climate change conference to help South Africa reduce its dependence on coal for power generation. So far there has been no announcement of actual funding for the fund in South Africa.

South Africa is currently experiencing power outages across the country because its coal-fired power plants are unable to generate enough electricity. Ramaphosa said the pledged funds would help Africa’s most developed economy move toward more environmentally friendly energy.

“We look forward to constructive discussions based on new technologies such as hydrogen and other renewable energy technologies to build a green economy, clean energy and climate resilience,” Ramaphosa told the press.

Later in the day, the two leaders announced a partnership between Germany and the South African chemical company Sassoul for research and development of an environmentally friendly jet fuel.

“The catalyst research project for sustainable kerosene focuses on the development of catalysts for green jet fuel,” Ramaphosa said as he and Schulz visited the Sassol headquarters in Johannesburg.

“This is one of the many areas of collaboration between companies, universities and government agencies in technology that will reshape our economy,” Ramaphosa said.

He announced that Sassoul was involved in a project to use the country’s solar and wind resources to export green hydrogen to the European Union, which has the potential to export 10 million tons a year by 2030.

Scholz arrived in South Africa after visiting Senegal and Niger, where he expressed interest in Senegal’s gas exploration opportunities and Germany’s interest in his country’s long-term military and financial assistance to Niger.

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