Biden, facing tempest at home, devotes time to S.Africa leaderTue, 02 Jul 2024 23:01:08 GMT

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday congratulated South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on winning a new term, devoting time to a key if complicated relationship despite a political storm in Washington.On a day when the first member of his Democratic Party in Congress called for Biden to step aside after a shaky debate performance worsened concern about his age, the White House said the 81-year-old president spoke by telephone to Ramaphosa.The White House said Biden congratulated Ramaphosa and discussed “areas of future partnership, including leadership in the G20,” the club of major economies that South Africa will head next year, when Biden hopes to be starting his own second term.”Together, the United States and South Africa are committed to deepening our cooperation and advancing our shared interests,” a statement said.Areas to work together include “growing economic prosperity, combating the climate crisis, strengthening health systems and ensuring that democracy delivers for all our people,” it added.The call comes after friction between the two countries, including US concern over South Africa leading a case at the International Court of Justice that accuses Israel of “genocide” in Gaza in its war in response to the October 7 Hamas attack.Even before the Gaza war, the United States had been made uneasy by the African power’s refusal to join international pressure against Moscow, which many South Africans remember fondly for its opposition to apartheid.The US ambassador in South Africa last year publicly accused the country of supplying weapons to a Russian cargo ship to be used in the Ukraine invasion, allegations he walked back after anger in Pretoria.Ramaphosa’s African National Congress, which has led South Africa since the advent of democracy in 1994, in May 29 elections lost its outright majority and formed what it calls a government of national unity.