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SOUTH AFRICA, DUTCH FMS CONDEMN US MISSILE STRIKES ON SYRIA

PRETORIA, April 12 (NNN-SABC) -- South Africa and the Netherlands have condemned the recent missile strikes carried out by the United States against Syria which have resulted in a significant loss of life.

The condemnation was made by South African International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoane�Mashabane and the visiting Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, who both called for a Syrian-based solution to the conflict which will reflect the country's territorial integrity and respect.

The two ministers expressed their views during a meeting here Tuesday. The two countries have deep-rooted ties dating back centuries, strengthened by a visit to South Africa by Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte in 2015.

On the international front, the two countries are equally concerned about the situation in Syria and the two foreign minsters denounced the loss of life and called what is happening in Syria a crime against humanity.

We call for maximum restraint from all parties to the conflict. We reiterate that any solution to the crisis could be and should be Syrian-led, based on genuine national dialogue devoid from any form of intimidation and freedom of interference from outside. South Africa believes that any solution to the conflict should respect the sovereignty, the independence, the unity and territorial integrity of Syria and at the same time upholds the purpose of principles enshrined in the UN charter, said Mashabane.

Koenders said the United Nations should be allowed play a lead role in resolving the conflict in Syria. I think it is the area of the international community to solve very serious problems. We see no protection of civilians, we see the use of chemical weapons, we see the use of terror by (terrorist group) ISIS, we see crimes against humanity on all sides of the conflict, we see the conflict being regionalised and internationalised. There is only one way to get to peace and integrity -- through the UN channels we have in Geneva -- against starting the negotiation, they have been difficult so far. All this horror that is taking place is a signal to all of us to go back to the UN to find a solution. There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict.

On the bilateral front, both minsters agreed that good progress had been made in a number of fields, including science and technology, agriculture, the Blue Ocean Economy and security matters. Nkoana Mashabane said the Netherland remained a key economic partner of South Africa.

According to trade rankings from January this year, the Netherlands was ranked South Africa's 8th largest export destination in the world and second largest export partner in the European Union (EU). Koenders' visit comes at a time when South Africa's economy is facing serious challenges following two recent credit rating downgrades.

Koenders said Pretoria can resolve the issues. Of course there is work to be done -- in my country and in your country as well -- and I realise we are coming in a time that is rather turbulent here but I am sure that all South Africans together can work together on a brighter future for their children. That is not an easy task (but) I am confident that the strength of South Africa's institutions and the country's rule of law will allow for South Africa and its people to continue pursuing economic growth and political stability.

On the political front, South Africa congratulated the Netherlands on its election to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for 2018. Nkoana Mashabane said South Africa was confident that the Netherlands would be able to contribute to the mandate of the Security Council regarding the maintenance of international peace and security. -- NNN-SABC

Source: NAM News Network