Reuben Brigety admits ‘he crossed the line’ when he said US convinced South Africa supplied arms to Russia, says ministry
South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said late Friday that US Ambassador Reuben Brigety apologized to the government and people of South Africa for his comments made a day earlier.
Brigety told reporters Thursday that the US was convinced South Africa had supplied arms to Russia despite claims to be neutral.
The diplomat said a Russian cargo ship, Lady R, which docked at Simon’s Town naval base in Cape Town from Dec. 6 – 8 had loaded weapons and ammunition as it made its way back to Russia.
The South African presidency said Thursday it noted with concern the remarks and will establish an independent inquiry led by a retired judge to probe the claims.
The Foreign Ministry, or DIRCO, summoned Brigety for a meeting Friday.
DIRCO said it expressed the government’s utter displeasure with the ambassador’s conduct and statements, alleging that South Africa sold weapons to Russia.
“Following today’s meeting, Ambassador Reuben Brigety admitted that he crossed the line and apologized unreservedly to the Government and the people of South Africa,” DIRCO said in a statement.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor this evening and correct any misimpressions left by my public remarks,” Brigety wrote on Twitter. “In our conversation, I re-affirmed the strong partnership between our two countries & the important agenda our Presidents have given us.”
DIRCO urged the US Embassy in Pretoria to use established diplomatic channels to convey concerns or to seek clarity on any misunderstandings that may arise in the relationship.
The agency said South Africa is known globally for having one of the most stringent processes when selling arms to 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 41 of 2002 (NCAC Act), and the Constitution,” it said.
Also, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke Friday with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor and underscored the importance of the US-South Africa strategic partnership. He reiterated cooperation on shared priorities, including health, trade and energy, according to a statement by American spokesman Matthew Miller.