THE WHITE HOUSE
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission
STATEMENT BY VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE
As we conclude the fourth working session of the U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission, it is both a privilege and an honor to announce the significant and very practical progress that has been made since my friend Deputy President Mbeki and I first discussed the creation of the Binational Commission a little more than two years ago.
We have engaged the talents of our best people to work together in six critical areas of our relationship: Human Resources Development and Education; Energy; Conservation and Environment; Science and Technology; and Business Development, and Agriculture. Today we added a seventh crucial component to that list: a Defense Committee, which will actively promote the creation of a healthy and dynamic military-to-military relationship. Deputy President Mbeki and I have charged each of these committees to develop practical, concrete programs through which both of our peoples will benefit. That work is well under way.
At each and every plenary session of our Commission, and in the work that continues throughout the year, we have come to recognize the tremendous stores of talent and wisdom and learning that our nations and our peoples can share with each other for our common good.
Let me cite a few of the many examples:
These are but a small sample of the scores of nuts-and-bolts steps we have taken to nurture the relationship between our nations, and the prospects for democracy, racial justice, and economic vitality both here in the United States, and in South Africa.
At the heart of the Commission's work also lies something equally profound and enduring: the historic, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime chance to strengthen and invigorate a relationship paralyzed so long by the cruel logic of racial hatred and division.
This is not easy work. It requires a sustained, systematic focus, great stores of political will, and the commitment of both sides to work together in good faith even at moments when we may disagree. And I am happy to say our efforts are paying-off. America's private sector is an increasingly active participant in South Africa's economic development. Our best minds are working together to address tough issues concerning crime, the environment, education, housing, and energy efficiency, science and technology. I am very proud of our work, and I am deeply grateful to my good friend, Deputy President Thabo Mbeki for his personal commitment and constancy. Much good has been done in Washington today. We have listened. We have learned. And we have acted.
While the BNC has a great many accomplishments to point to and be proud of, we also recognize that we've just begun to scratch the surface of the remarkable range of cooperative and mutually beneficial ideas and initiatives. Deputy President Mbeki and I agree that these semi-annual meetings of the US-South Africa Binational Commission continue to provide an essential vehicle for developing new areas of cooperation, to further our work at building a dynamic community of people and enterprises between our countries, and to meet to discuss other topics of mutual interest. I am very much looking forward to the work of the coming six months.