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S/African delegation off to AU summit

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International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will lead a South African delegation to the 29th African Union summit in Addis Ababa starting in the Ethiopian capital on Monday, diplomatic sources have said here.The minister will represent President Jacob Zuma at the two-day summit which is expected to end on 4 July. Zuma is currently attending the ruling African National Congress partys’ crucial policy conference in Johannesburg that runs until 5 July, according to the sources on Sunday.

The 29th session of the assembly of heads of state and government summit is themed “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth” – a topic which is of crucial importance to not only South Africa but the continent as a whole, the diplomatic sources said.

“The South African government has prioritised youth development and empowerment with the primary objective of ensuring their fullest integration into society in order to ensure that they take charge of their lives and realise their full potential,” the sources said.

The sources said that this was within the context of domesticating the AU’s Agenda 2063 through this country’s National Development Plan 2030 and its National Youth Policy 2020.

The summit is also expected to deliberate on key issues related to the implementation of institutional reforms of the pan-African bloc, peace and security, and addressing issues related to migration, among others, the diplomatic sources said.

The situations in South Sudan, Libya, Mali, Central African Republic, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, the region of Darfur and Somalia are expected to be the hot issues as far as peace and security is concerned on the continent.

The leaders will also reflect on the issue of the early establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area as an essential instrument to promote intra-African trade and continental integration, the diplomats said.

Other important agenda items include matters like the adoption of the 2018 Budget of the AU and various elections – including for the remaining two positions of Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, and Commissioner for Economic Affairs.

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