South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he wanted to “deepen and broaden” ties with Britain as he met Rishi Sunak for talks at No10.
The President was in Downing Street as part of his State Visit to Britain, the first visit by a foreign dignitary in the King’s reign.
Mr Ramaphosa said he wanted to discuss trade and investment and the transition to a zero-carbon economy.
“For us, this is a great opportunity to deepen and broaden our connections, connections that are historic in many ways,” said the President.
Mr Sunak said it had been a “historic state visit” and that “South Africa and the UK are obviously very strong partners, allies, friends and we share so many of the same goals – notably moving towards clean energy while creating jobs and Opportunities for our citizens”.
The state visit was marked by the signing of an agreement between Britain and South Africa to strengthen their health partnership to prevent future pandemics.
As part of the agreement, UK and South African institutions will collaborate on nine research projects on topics including health systems, mental health, surgery and HIV, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The two countries are also working together to tackle climate change, with the UK contributing funds to the Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa to help the country decarbonise its economy.
The announcement came as the President visited the Francis Crick Institute’s biomedical research facility in London with the Earl of Wessex. The two men also toured Kew Gardens.
At Kew, the President and Edward viewed plants at Temperate House, home to more than 10,000 rare and endangered plants from around the world, including South Africa.
Mr Ramaphosa was presented with seeds of Leucospermum conocarpodendron – the South African flower known as the pincushion – which has been declining in numbers in the Western Cape.
The gift marks a plan to open a South African national wild species seed bank next year and begin transferring duplicate seeds held at the Millennium Seed Bank.
During the two-day state visit, Mr Ramaphosa visited Buckingham Palace for a lavish banquet in his honor hosted by the King on Tuesday night.
A Cabinet minister has defended the event, which was set at a time of hardship for millions of Britons.
Guests at Buckingham Palace ate grilled brill – a delicate flatfish – followed by pheasant from the Windsor estate and, for dessert, iced vanilla parfait with caramelized apples, all washed down with fine wines.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said the visit would help boost trade and that growth in the economy was the price that mattered – “whether it’s pheasant on a plate or pie and mash”.
Mr Stride told radio station LBC: “At the heart of our soft power, as it’s often called, is this ability to project our sense of history and pageant.”
Asked about when people are struggling with the cost of living, Mr Stride said: “I would see it as working with our main trading partner on the African continent, with whom we have very important historical and trade ties and economy.
“What we really want to achieve is a stronger and healthier UK economy and that benefits everyone.”
The state visit concluded with a final visit by Mr Ramaphosa to the king at Buckingham Palace and after a meeting which lasted around 10 minutes, Charles waved the statesman away from the grand entrance of the royal residence.