Marles visit strengthens relationship with South Africa

Media release

22 January 2013

Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles has completed a visit to South Africa, part of the first high-level visit to Africa since Australia's election to the United Nations Security Council in October.

"South Africa is Australia's largest trade and investment destination in Africa," Mr Marles said.

"The relationship is underpinned by growing political-level engagement and strong people-to-people links in sport, education, culture, tourism and business."

Mr Marles met with South Africa's Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, the Hon Ebrahim Ebrahim, to discuss the deepening bilateral relationship and peace and security issues in Africa.

"I appreciated hearing South Africa's views and perspectives on major regional challenges currently before the Security Council, including the situations in Zimbabwe, Madagascar and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo."

African peace and security issues account for around two thirds of the United Nations Security Council's agenda.

Mr Marles' visit highlighted Australia's desire to consult widely and seek the views of African countries on issues before the United Nations Security Council that directly affect them.

During his visit, Mr Marles also had the opportunity to participate in a workshop arranged by a local youth development NGO, Enke: Make your Mark.

"The Enke program has demonstrated its capacity to access and empower disenfranchised youth in South Africa and provide a cost effective link to other AusAID human resource development programs at a community level," Mr Marles said.

Mr Marles announced additional funding for Enke's Youth Award program in 2013, through the Australia-Africa Community Grants Scheme. This support complements AusAID's broader focus on human resource development in South Africa, including through Australia Awards in Africa scholarships, the Australia-Africa Partnerships Facility, and Australian Volunteers for International Development.

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