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US ambassador to SA has ‘apologised unreservedly’: Dirco after démarche

US Ambassador to SA Reuben E Brigety II with minister Naledi Pandor.
US Ambassador to SA Reuben E Brigety II with minister Naledi Pandor.
Image: Supplied

US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety has apologised “unreservedly” after he admitted to “crossing the line” at a briefing he held on Thursday. 

This is according to the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) which in a diplomatic démarche on Friday expressed the government's “utter displeasure” with Brigety's “conduct and statements”.

Brigety caused a furore on Thursday when he told reporters a Russian ship that had docked at Simon's Town naval base had left South Africa loaded with weapons.

He also said Washington had established the vessel was loaded with weapons while docked at the naval base in December.

There was controversy when the vessel docked, with Pretoria silent on its activities while in South African waters.

Brigety's comments sparked a local outcry, with questions being raised about the manner he chose to raise these concerns.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has since announced the government would institute an independent inquiry to probe these allegations.

Dirco in a statement released after the démarche confirmed Brigety's apology.

“Dirco finds this behaviour puzzling and at odds with the mutually beneficial and cordial relationship that exists between the US and South Africa.

“Following today’s [Friday] meeting, the ambassador admitted that he crossed the line and apologised unreservedly to the government and the people of South Africa. South Africa is known globally for having one of the most stringent processes when selling arms to other countries.

“The process is managed by the National Convention Arms Control Committee (NCACC), which was created through an act of parliament, the National Conventional Arms Control Act (NCAC Act), and the constitution.

Dirco also welcomed Ramaphosa's announcement, saying the “process will allow for facts to be established and for role players to be identified”.

“Anyone found to have broken the law will face severe consequences. South Africa calls on the US embassy in Pretoria to use established diplomatic channels of communication to convey any concerns or to seek clarity on any misunderstandings that may arise in the bilateral relationship,” it said.


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