SA defends military drills with Russia

PRETORIA. – South Africa has defended its decision to hold a joint military exercise with Russia and China next month.

Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor condemned the “double-standard” which says some countries can perform such exercises but others are not.

“All countries conduct military exercises with friends worldwide,” Dr Pandor added.

The comments came at a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Pretoria.

Pandor went on to slam the suggestion that South Africa cannot conduct the military exercises it wants to as an “abuse of international practice”.

“This is just a natural set of exercises that occur between countries,” she said.

The drills will run for 10 days from 17 February to 27 February in the port city of Durban, and Richards Bay.

The aim is to share operational skills and knowledge, the South African National Defence Force said.

Despite pressure from Western countries to condemn the Russian invasion, South Africa has remained neutral – to the disappointment of Ukraine.

Speaking at the conference, Lavrov said he appreciated the “well balanced” and “considerate” approach of South Africa to the Ukraine war, which Pandor said must be resolved diplomatically and through negotiation.

“I would like to highly appreciate the position of principle of South Africa, including the position in which you, Madam Minister (Pandor), introduced in your recent interview.

“I respect the openness and the responsible approach which you demonstrated on the basis of your allegiance to the key national interests of South Africa and its people,” said Lavrov.

“So, I look forward to the negotiations, and once again thank you for your invitation, and for your hospitality.” – IOLNews

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