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President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has welcomed to Botswana three new ambassadors representing France, Zimbabwe and Western Sahara.
The trio, Ms Lawrence Beau of France, Zimbabwe's Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro and Mr Mohamed Malainin of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, presented their credentials at the Office of the President on Monday.
In separate brief meetings, Dr Masisi said Botswana enjoyed cordial relations with the three countries and expressed hope that the envoys would during their tour of duty further strengthen existing bilateral ties.
He told the French ambassador that Botswana continued to be an open, free and peaceful society and that he expected the upcoming general election to continue on that trajectory of tranquility that had historically been a mark of domestic public affairs.
Noting that the people of Botswana and Zimbabwe had a historic bond and family relations across both borders, Dr Masisi said High Commissioner Mukonoweshuro should feel at home in the country and work on ensuring stronger working relations.
Dr Masisi said following Saharawi President Mr Brahim Ghali's working visit to Botswana last year and the subsequent decision for the establishment of diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level between the two states, Botswana was delighted to welcome Mr Malainin.
Speaking to BOPA after their presentations, the three emissaries expressed the desire to forge stronger bilateral ties with Botswana.
Saharawi envoy, Mr Malainin thanked Botswana for its consistency in supporting his country's political struggle for self-determination.
He noted that Botswana first officially recognised Saharawi or Western Sahara as a sovereign state in 1980 which recognition had culminated in the establishment of full diplomatic ties.
French ambassador Ms Beau committed her country and the European Union to continued trade with Botswana.
Historically, Botswana's economic ties with Europe, were largely anchored on its relationship with former colonial ruler, the United Kingdom, before the 1975 Lomé Convention through which the then European Economic Commission (EEC) allowed African, Caribbean and Pacific states preferential access to the European market in agricultural products such as beef.
Ms Beau said Botswana should rest assured that the UK's departure from the EU (Brexit) would not affect Europe-Botswana trade.
"The EU has an office here in Gaborone and we have EU countries such as ourselves and Germany which can still ensure that trade between Botswana and Europe continues even after Brexit.
In France President Emmanuel Macron is committed to stronger ties between France and African countries, not just Francophone African states. France and Botswana share many values which provide us with the basis for stronger cooperation," Ms Beau said.
Zimbabwean high commissioner Mukonoweshuro noted that relations between the Botswana and Zimbabwe predated Zimbabwean independence noted that during the liberation struggle, many freedom fighters including the late Joshua Nkomo were either exiled in Botswana or transited through the country.
The establishment of the Botswana-Zimbabwe Bi-national Commission, which replaced the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation and the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security was indicative of a stronger political will towards cooperation, he said.
Noting that Zimbabwe had benefited from Botswana in areas such as the combating of foot and mouth disease, Mr Mukonoweshuro said the two countries were speaking with one voice on Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) ivory trade issues.
Botswana on the other hand could benefit by untilising educational facilities in Zimbabwe.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>