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Tuesday, 28 August 2018

British PM Arrives In South Africa

British Prime Minister Theresa May and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attend the SS Mendi bell ceremony on August 28, 2018 in Cape Town.

British Prime Minister Theresa May began her tour of three African countries in South Africa, where she held an interactive session with school children, business leaders and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Cape Town.

In her address, May spoke about increased international cooperation for global development, building stronger and more stable African economies, and the UK's ambition to be the leading African investor among the countries. G7 by 2022.

"By 2022, I want the UK to become the number one G7 investor in Africa, with British private sector companies taking the lead," May told Cape Town leaders.

The major industrialized G7 countries do not include China, which has become a major investor on the African continent.

Her tour of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya - the first in May in Africa since she became first in 2016 - is seen as an effort to strengthen Britain's global ambitions after Brexit.

"I want to create a new partnership between the UK and our friends in Africa, built around shared prosperity and shared security," she added.

May faces pressure at home from the so-called skeptical remains about its ability to enter into trade deals when Britain breaks relations with the EU, as well as Brexite fearing not to break completely .

On his trip to South Africa, May suggested to the British traveling press that a Brexit without a transaction would not be a disaster for Britain and would minimize warnings of serious consequences for the British economy.

Dance steps

Former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, whose July departure from the government put May's government on the edge, said in his resignation speech that current Brexit policy would hinder London's ability to conclude trade agreements independent.

But May said Britain was well positioned and that many companies were ready to invest in Africa.

On Tuesday, she announced a new investment program in Africa of four billion pounds ($ 5 billion / 4.4 billion). There were no immediate details of the initiative.

May added that Britain would also hold an investment summit in Africa next year and open new diplomatic missions across the continent.

The Prime Minister had already attracted mixed reviews for his hesitant dance steps as she was greeted by students singing during a visit to a school in Cape Town.

May also presented to President Cyril Ramaphosa the bell of the Mendi ship, which sank in the Channel in 1917, drowning more than 600 soldiers, mainly South African, who were to join the Allied forces fighting during the First World War.

It was the worst maritime disaster in South Africa's history and became the symbol of its sacrifice for the Great War.

The bell was given to a BBC reporter in 2017 following anonymous advice.

Ramaphosa described the gift of the bell as "the return of their souls to the land of their birth".

South Africa calls for a smooth Brexit

After talks with May, the president, who came to power this year, praised Britain's role in securing $ 100 billion in foreign investment to boost South Africa's economy and rise in unemployment.

But he also added that he hoped that Britain would soon conclude the Brexit negotiations in a way "that restores stability in the economic and financial markets ... because their exit also has an impact on our economy" .

May was expected to visit Robben Island later, where former President Nelson Mandela was jailed for decades to commemorate the centenary of his birth.

May will visit Nigeria Wednesday for talks with President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital Abuja and with victims of modern slavery in Lagos.

On Thursday, she will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta shortly after his return from US President Donald Trump to Washington.

The Prime Minister will also see British troops in training and visit a business school, before concluding the trip at a state dinner hosted by Kenyatta.

London and Brussels have yet to reach an agreement on Britain's exit conditions from the EU in March.

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