Pandor's influence in US relations expressed in call with Blinken

Former international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor and US secretary of state Antony Blinken. File photo.
Former international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor and US secretary of state Antony Blinken. File photo.
Image: DIRCO

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has thanked former international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor for the working relationship he had with her.

Blinken did this in a phone call he had with Pandor who has received glowing attributes for her stint as minister, Blinken's spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

“He expressed appreciation for their collaboration during her tenure, which included working together on global peace and security, expanding bilateral trade, advancing shared health goals and supporting renewable energy sources to address climate change and provide reliable power,” said Miller.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday appointed former justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola to take over from Pandor.

The two ministers stood on opposite ends in 2023 after a huge shift in geopolitics, with South Africa opting to remain neutral in Russia's war in Ukraine, putting Washington's relationship with Pretoria under strain.

Pandor hosted her counterparts in the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) bloc during preparations for its summit, fuelling dissent.

With pressure mounting from the US and its allies, Pandor had to balance Pretoria's relationship with China, Russia and the West.

Among her actions was the démarche of US ambassador Reuben Brigety after he made serious claims against South Africa in a TV interview with selected journalists. The allegations threatened trade relations between the two countries. Key to this was the Agoa agreement — a preferential trade programme — up for extension next year which affords South Africa billions in its exports to the US tariff-free.

During Pandor's tenure South Africa took Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for its war against Palestine. Israel is a close ally of the US, benefiting from trillions of dollars in arms. 

The ICJ issued provisional measures in May directing Israel to halt its military offensive in Rafah which it said may inflict worsening conditions of life on Palestinians in Gaza.

Former Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the South African government had placed itself on the right side of history by pursuing the case.

Also during Pandor's tenure, South Africa led Africa's peace mission in Russia and Ukraine in an attempt to end the war.



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