* * *
President OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Mr President, I wish you a warm welcome to Sochi.
I want to thank you for accepting my invitation to visit the Russian Federation. You were very quick to respond too, coming so soon after the African Union summit devoted to the situation in Libya, in which you took part.
I won’t hide that the situation in Libya and the possibilities for a settlement, achieved above all through peaceful means, is precisely the subject I want to discuss with you today.
It just happens that today I am also scheduled to meet here in Sochi with the NATO Secretary General and the ambassadors of the NATO member countries. I would like them to hear from me, and perhaps from you too, Mr President, our view on the events unfolding in Libya and the steps that could be taken to achieve peace.
I propose that we concentrate on these issues, though I am of course happy to discuss with you any other matters you wish to raise.
Once again, thank you for coming to our country so quickly.
President of South Africa Jacob Zuma: Thank you very much, Your Excellency Mr President, thank you very much for the warm welcome. I am also very pleased that I am here at the right time: it’s winter in our country, it’s freezing, and here it’s very warm and wonderful and comfortable, so even the weather has welcomed us very warmly. Thank you very much indeed for inviting us at this time because winter is always a bit painful in Russia.
I would also like to thank you very much for the invitation after our telephone exchange, particularly on the issue that has just been mentioned, the issue of Libya, which is one of the challenging issues right now, not only on the continent of Africa but globally.
Part of the reason we reacted very promptly is because the AU was having a summit and of course one of the issues that dominated the agenda of the AU was the Libyan problem. The AU did spend time on the matter and took very specific decisions, which I thought as you invited me that it was very important to come and share with you as well as with whoever asks, we can share what the AU’s thinking is and what it’s plan is. I also agree that this item should dominate our discussions. Of course we can discuss other matters, as always.
I am also happy that some of the NATO representatives are here in Russia because that will be very helpful in terms of our interaction. They will come to know what it is that preoccupies the AU at the moment and what is the AU’s view about what the international community could do, also NATO in particular, given that it is one of the active participants at the moment in what is happening in Libya.
Thank you very much, I am very happy that I am here. It will be a brief visit but I think it will certainly be very valuable.