SA/Portugal defence co-operation a reality

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Defence co-operation between Portugal and South Africa is a reality in the wake of an agreement signed by the two countries’ leaders in Pretoria this week.

Portuguese President Marcelo de Sousa met his South African counterpart as part of a State visit by the leader of a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) founding country. Improved co-operation for mutual benefit in the fields of science and innovation, education and energy are in the offing as well thanks to agreements concluded.

SAnews has South African President Cyril Ramaphosa saying: “The agreement on defence co-operation, signed following official talks, is expected to provide a legal framework for closer co-operation in this area of the relationship [between the two countries]”.

Elaborating, Ramaphosa said Portugal and South Africa “want to learn from each other” as both are involved in peacekeeping. Portugal is not listed in the top 20 troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping and peace support missions. The 2022 list is headed by Bangladesh (7 233) with South Africa number 16 (1 071).

“There is a lot we can learn from each other around defence of our borders and the maritime [space]. We are also two countries that happen to get involved in peacekeeping missions. Being able to co-operate on defence level through an agreement enhances that.

“In as much as there is a conflict raging in another part of the world, it does not mean we should be deterred from entering into agreements that will bring us closer and co-operate more effectively. This agreement is a great signal to both countries,” the government news agency has Ramaphosa saying.

De Sousa’s visit coincides with the arrival of the Portuguese Navy submarine NRP Arpão in Cape Town, together with the patrol ship NRP Setúbal.