If you're a World Cup aficionado, you'll feel at home in Cape Town. South Africa was another stop on my seven-country tour in Africa. The country was bursting with pre-World Cup activity. I learned that more Americans have bought tickets for the games than any nationality other than South Africa. Cape Town has a beautiful new stadium, and officials here tell me they're ready to welcome the world. The games will be a credit to South Africa and the African continent.
My trip built on a number of other efforts in the Obama Administration over the last 15-16 months, which reflect the high priority that the United States attaches to relations with our African partners, in particular our close cooperation with South Africa. I visited ten days or so after a very successful meeting between President Obama and President Zuma in Washington on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit, and a meeting between Secretary Clinton and the South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane that produced a Memorandum of Understanding and a new Strategic Dialogue. We have a real opportunity to work together on a range of issues, from promoting regional peace and stability to issues of climate and energy, non-proliferation and disarmament, health and education and trade and investment. My own discussions with Foreign Minister Mashabane left me optimistic about our future.
Even on a short visit, it is evident that South Africa is a land of contrasts, with enormous wealth and poverty, enormous potential and challenges. What many rightly call the “miracle” of the end of apartheid and transformation to democracy is still very much a work in progress.
The good news is that South Africans know this better than anyone else. I had lunch with some leading thinkers and academics and others engaged in building this society. Our candid conversation about the challenges facing democratic governance in the country indicated the people are asking the right questions and committed to finding solutions. I'm confident that together we can help South Africa make real progress, and South Africa can help the international community meet the global challenges of the 21st century.
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