Barack Obama will meet South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma in Pretoria today, but the US president insists he will not push for a visit with Nelson Mandela.
Mr Obama is in South Africa with his family as part of his three-nation Africa tour. He arrived in Pretoria aboard Air Force One late on Friday evening.
Mr Obama told reporters in Dakar, Senegal, before he departed for South Africa that he “did not need a photo op” with the anti-apartheid icon, who remains in hospital.
“I think the main message we’ll want to deliver, if not directly to him, but to his family, is simply profound gratitude for his leadership,” Mr Obama said.
The US president Barack Obama and visits South Africa on a three-day tour of the region . Read below us about the two presidents visit and the reasons of their visit
“We are pleased to be working with you [Obama] today with a common goal of expanding trade and relations between our two countries,” said Zuma in a televised press briefing.
“Mr President you are visiting Africa at the right time…Africa is rising…It is the second fastest growing region after Asia and has become an attractive market for investment.”
Zuma said the country was shifting from “disinvestment to reinvestments”.
“Thus the United States strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa that you launched last year is well-timed to take advantage of this growing market,” said Zuma.
“We look forward to strengthening the US-Africa partnership and we are pleased with the growing bilateral trade and investment.”
There are 600 US companies operating in South Africa which have created in excess 150 000 jobs.
“We are pleased to be working with you today with a common goal of expanding trade relations between our two countries.”
He said the US was a major export market for South African products.
“South Africa in turn is your biggest market in Africa, accounting for more than seven billion US dollars of exports,” said Zuma.
“Our mutual trade has reached the levels preceding the global recession.”
Zuma said he would like to see increased investment in the South African economy for mutual benefit arising out of Obama’s visit.
“We have placed on the table bankable projects which range from infrastructure development to skills development for the youth…”
Zuma said youth development was a key focus area for South Africa given that a third of the population is under the age of 15.
“Mr president, let me welcome you, your family and your delegation to South Africa,” said Zuma, despite several protests against Obama this week.
He added that South Africa remained concerned at the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process.
“We are of the view that lasting peace in the Middle East will not be possible without addressing the other problems in the region.
“We are encouraged by the positive steps you [Obama] have taken to relax long standing restrictions.”
On investment, Obama said he was not threatened that other countries, led by China, were investing in Africa.