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South Africa ready for Obama

South Africa, one of the three countries to be visited by US President Barack Obama during his ongoing African swing, is ready for the visit, which commences Friday, PANA reported

President Obama, accompanied by his family, senior advisers and a business delegation, will be making his second visit to South Africa, but his first as US Head of State.

PANA reported that the visit may have been buoyed by the news that ailing former President and global icon Nelson Mandela’s condition has improved, even though he remains in critical condition in a Pretoria hospital where he was taken 8 June for the treatment of a recurring lung infection.

President Jacob Zuma will receive President Obama for crucial bilateral talks that will take forward relations between the two countries, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Saturday, the South African Presidency said in a statement ahead of the visit.

The talks will cover strengthening the status of bilateral relations, trade and investments, education, health, development assistance as well as security and development cooperation in Africa.

President Zuma will be accompanied to the talks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi and Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel.

The US is a major trade, investment, tourism and technology partner for South Africa. There are 600 US companies in South Africa employing more than 150,000 local people.

”South Africa values its warm and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States immensely. This is a significant visit which will take political, economic and people to people relations between the two countries to a higher level, while also enhancing cooperation between US and the African continent at large,” it said.

According to the South African Presidency, the visit also takes place just a few months before South Africa celebrates 20 years of freedom. South Africa greatly appreciates the solidarity provided by the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the United States during the struggle for liberation.

PANA reports that President Obama, whose father hailed from Kenya, arrived in Senegal on Wednesday on the first leg of the three-nation visit that will also take him to Tanzania.

This is the US President’s second trip to sub-Saharan Africa since he assumed office. He made his first trip to Ghana in July 2009.

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