South Africa and South Sudan have signed a declaration of intent as the first step towards a memorandum of understanding on defence.
The landlocked country in east/central Africa is the newest state on the continent, having achieved independence on July 9, 2011.
The declaration was entered into by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her South Sudanese counterpart, General John Kong Nyuon, at the Castle in Cape Town earlier this week.
She said at the signing that there was “general solidarity by South Africans in the liberation of South Sudan” and this made partnership in defence co-operation a natural progression.
“The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and the Department of Defence has played an active role in both capacity and institution building in South Sudan and this relationship can be tracked back to 2005 in the build-up to independence,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
The SANDF, under the auspices of the UN, is currently part of a multi-national peacekeeping force in the border region between Sudan and South Sudan. Additionally other South African government officials have provided training to assist South Sudanese in setting up a civil service.
Ministry spokesman Sonwabo Mbananga said a final memorandum of defence co-operation between the two countries will be entered into “in the near future”.