King Charles welcomes S.Africa's Ramaphosa for first state visit
King Charles hosted his first state visit since becoming British monarch on Tuesday, welcoming Cyril Ramaphosa to Buckingham Palace, where the South African president invoked Mandela as he paid tribute to the close ties between the two countries. Charles, 74, rolled out the traditional pomp and ceremony as Britain sought to bolster its relations with its biggest trading partner in Africa.
King Charles hosted his first state visit since becoming British monarch on Tuesday, welcoming Cyril Ramaphosa to Buckingham Palace, where the South African president invoked Mandela as he paid tribute to the close ties between the two countries.
Charles, 74, rolled out the traditional pomp and ceremony as Britain sought to bolster its relations with its biggest trading partner in Africa. Addressing lawmakers in parliament, Ramaphosa lauded the two nations' close ties, forged in the wake of a difficult legacy of colonialism and apartheid.
He later said he had discussed "initiatives that can be embarked upon by the Commonwealth under the leadership of his majesty the king" over lunch at Buckingham Palace. He said he would raise the idea of allowing more South African students to study in Britain when he meets Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday, and added the restructuring of South Africa's energy market to battle power shortages could provide opportunities for British companies.
"By pursuing these and other avenues for cooperation, I believe that we will define the relationship between South Africa and the United Kingdom in new and exciting ways," Ramaphosa said. Britain hopes the visit, which had been planned before the death of Queen Elizabeth in September, will strengthen trade and investment ties between the two nations, and show the importance of links with the Commonwealth of Nations, the international organisation which Charles now heads.
"This is a reinforcement of the strong bilateral relationship that we have with South Africa, a real opportunity to build on that close working relationship and discuss some of the issues that affect us all," British foreign minister James Cleverly told Reuters. FIRST STATE VISIT SINCE 2019
Ramaphosa was officially greeted by Charles's eldest son and heir Prince William and his wife Kate at a central London hotel to mark the start of his two-day trip, the first state visit to the UK by a world leader since that of then-U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania in 2019. The last state visit to Britain by a South African leader was that of President Jacob Zuma in 2010.
Gun salutes and a ceremonial welcome from the king and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, followed before a grand carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where a banquet will be held later in the president's honour. Ramaphosa was scheduled to visit Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and see the memorial stone for former South African President Nelson Mandela.
Ramaphosa said that Britain had stood with South Africa to help free Mandela and end apartheid, and now called on Britain to support the calls of lower income countries for a reformed global institutional order and climate justice. "Let us rekindle the moral purpose of the global fight against apartheid to confront the discrimination, inequality and injustice that divides humanity and that stifles the progress of all," he said.
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