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Biden to discuss Ukraine war with South African President Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa has refrained from condemning Russia, and his country has maintained a neutral stance on the conflict.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will host South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in the Oval Office for a bilateral meeting Friday, where they're expected to discuss the war in Ukraine.

In April, Biden and Ramaphosa had "a frank and open conversation about what was happening in Ukraine," a senior administration official said, previewing the meeting. The official added "there was a lot of listening, a lot of consultation."

Ramaphosa has refrained from condemning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and his country has largely remained neutral during the conflict.

"As the conflict has evolved, we are eager to hear South Africa’s perspective on how do we reach a just conclusion to the conflict, and what are the means to do that," the official said. It's important to the administration, as outlined in the new U.S.-Africa strategy, to talk to African partners on global issues and hear their perspective, "and then from that conversation, to have a more effective, thoughtful, inclusive policy,” the official said.

Other top priorities for both countries that could come up include trade, investment, infrastructure, climate and energy, and health issues, the official said.

The official emphasized that the United States has provided $8 billion to South Africa since 2004 to fight HIV/AIDS and commended the country's leadership in the global fight against the Covid pandemic.

Ramaphosa, 69, has served as the president of South Africa since 2018 and also is president of the African National Congress. He previously was the chairperson of the African Union and was the deputy president of South Africa.