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South African President Ramaphosa meets PM Sunak, King Charles III

On Wednesday – the second day of his visit to the UK – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa met with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in joining him at a UK-South Africa business forum. Earlier that day he also met with King Charles III.

President Ramaphosa was received by PM Sunak at 10 Downing Street where the two leaders exchanged warm greetings before joining a UK-South Africa business forum to tackle matters on trade and investment. This comes as no surprise given South Africa’s prominent role as Britain’s top trading partner in Africa.

First official visit marked with a new health and science partnership

Also on Wednesday, accompanied by Charles’ brother Edward, President Ramaphosa toured the Crick Institute, the biggest biomedical research facility in Europe, and Kew Gardens. To mark the second day of his visit to London, the two nations announced a new health and science partnership.

Located in west London, Kew Gardens will work with South Africa’s National Biodiversity Institute on preserving South Africa’s plant diversity.

The UK will also buttress genome sequencing at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), which played a key role in detecting COVID-19 variants such as beta and omicron, in a push to improve antimicrobial resistance surveillance in Africa.

As British Foreign Minister James Cleverly said, the partnerships which pertain to areas such as vaccine manufacturing, genome sequencing and climate change, will “benefit us all”.

“The UK and South Africa have shown global leadership in joining together to protect people by preventing the spread of dangerous diseases, and by working to halt climate change,” he said.

The partnership announcement had been preceded by another high-ranking meeting on Tuesday, namely with King Charles for whom President Ramaphosa makes for the first official guest.

With splendour and a traditional ceremony, King Charles welcomed the South African official at a banquet hosted in his honour.

In his Tuesday speech, President Ramaphosa underscored the role industrialised nations need to play in supporting other countries in cutting emissions. He also mentioned his appreciation for the UK’s involvement in initiatives helping South Africa to decarbonise.

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