© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as they arrive for a working session during the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain, June 12, 2021. Leon Neal/Pool. via REUTERS / File Photo
By Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden on Friday discussed ties with Russia during a White House meeting with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, who has resisted joining Washington’s campaign against Moscow for war in Ukraine.
Biden, who has led an international coalition to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the seven-month war in Ukraine, wants South Africa’s help in efforts that include forcing Moscow to sell its oil at below-market prices. school.
After a cheerful greeting to the press, the two leaders spoke privately in the Oval Office for more than an hour on topics including trade, climate and energy, the White House said.
They pledged to address some of the “most pressing challenges in the world of mutual concern, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its negative consequences for food security in Africa.” , the White House said.
Biden also announced $45 million in funding for an $8.5 million multinational venture to accelerate the phasing out of coal-fired power generation in South Africa.
Additional US funding of the Energy Transition Partnership Just at a time of decline and oil exports from Russia and Ukraine has boosted South African coal and reset the decarbonization target for one of the world’s largest economies. the world’s largest carbon user.
In recent weeks, Biden and his aides have increased their engagement with African countries as they keep an eye on the investments and diplomacy of rivals Russia and China on the continent.
Ramaphosa has resisted calls to directly criticize Russia, instead opposing the use of force in general. In March, he blamed NATO’s eastward expansion for instability and suggested that the conflict should be resolved through UN mediation rather than Western sanctions. lead the way to the detriment of “outsiders”.
South Africa was one of 17 African countries that abstained in a United Nations vote condemning Russia’s offensive behavior.
“Our position on this matter is respected, it is known and recognized,” Ramaphosa told reporters after the meeting. “Clearly the conflict must be resolved. Our view is that it can best be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.”
Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) Party, which has run South Africa since the end of white minority rule in 1994, has close ties to the former Soviet Union, which trained and support anti-apartheid activists.
However, South Africa has remained high diplomatically among Russia’s rivals in the West relative to its economic size since the country’s peaceful transition to democracy.
Last month, during a visit to South Africa, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington would not dictate Africa’s options, after pledging to “do things differently” following insults from the former president. President Donald Trump on African countries.
A bill passed by the US House of Representatives in April would boost US efforts to counter Russian influence in Africa.
“We have expressed our displeasure and objections,” Ramaphosa said in a video uploaded to Twitter (NYSE:). “We shouldn’t be told anyone we associate with and we should never be put in positions where we have to choose who our friends are.”
The people of Africa are often dissatisfied with being the stage for the rivalry between China, Russia, and the Western order. The Ukraine war has exacerbated Africa’s longstanding competition for natural resources, trade and security relations.
War and inflation put pressure on South Africa, where half the population lived below the poverty line even before the war decimated Russia and Ukraine’s grain and fertilizer exports.
Biden is expected to host more leaders from the continent in December, when ANC members will also decide whether to keep Ramaphosa as their party leader.