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Clinton urges S.Africa to promote democratic values

posted 8 Aug 2012, 09:55 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 8 Aug 2012, 09:56 ]

U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urges South Africa to promote democratic values and hopes Pretoria can push Iran on nuclear ambitions.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (AUGUST 8, 2012) (REUTERS) - South Africa's next generation of leaders should honour the legacy of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela by promoting democratic values around the world, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday (August 8)

She also called on South Africa, which voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons programme from 1989, to use its long-standing links with Tehran to persuade Iran to reconsider its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Clinton, speaking two days after visiting the 94-year-old Mandela, said South Africa's legacy of peacefully overturning apartheid brought with it responsibilities.

Clinton's speech was a strong call for South Africa to do more on everything from promoting economic development to solving global challenges, such as Syria's bloody crisis or the impasse over Iran's nuclear programme.

"As the first country to voluntarily give up nuclear weapons South Africa speaks with a rare authority. You can most convincingly make the case that giving up nuclear weapons is a sign of strength and not weakness and you can help ensure that any country that pursues nuclear weapons programs will invite more pressure and isolation," Clinton told university students in Cape Town, in a speech billed as the centrepiece of an 11-day Africa tour.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress has had close ties with the Islamic leaders of Iran as well as with Western powers trying to put pressure on Tehran to end what they suspect is a drive to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

"When old friends in power become corrupt and oppressive a decision by South Africa to stand on the side of freedom is not a sign that you are giving up old allies it is a reminder to yourself that your values don't stop at your borders," she said

South Africa's white-minority apartheid government, which ruled until 1994, developed a nuclear arms programme.

The decision to dismantle the programme came as the Cold War was ending and Pretoria saw less need for weapons to counter a communist threat. The apartheid regime was also trying to improve its tainted global image.

Although well received inside the university hall, outside a small group of students protested Clinton's appearance, chanting and carrying signs that said "U.S Stop killing people of Middle East."