Warm Reception for Thabo Mbeki

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK President Thabo Mbeki was given the traditional red-carpet welcome reserved for heads of state and visiting royalty when he deplaned from a white Falcon 900 at Eros yesterday following a two-hour flight from Waterkloof air-force base in Pretoria. Seconds after disembarking from the jet, bearing a green and golden South African Air-force (SAAF) insignia, a beaming Mbeki was immediately embraced by his Namibian counterpart Hifikepunye Pohamba after which an anxious-looking Sarafina Tshilunga, a protocol officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pinned a carnation on the lapel of Mbeki’s suit. Then the two heads of state inspected a rifle-bearing guard of honour attired in red coats with black trousers before members of the Kalahari Cultural Group – in tribal dress – rendered a riveting performance of dance and song for the VIPs. Mbeki was then introduced to Prime Minister Nahas Angula, Foreign Affairs Minister Marco Hausiku, Presidential Affairs Minister Dr Albert Kawana, Safety and Security Minister Peter Tsheehama and Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Dr Abraham Iyambo. Other senior dignitaries who welcomed Mbeki during his whirlwind visit included the War Veterans Minister Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, Mines and Energy Minister Erkki Nghimtina, Trade and Industry Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko, Environment and Tourism Minister Willem Konjore, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Lempy Lucas, Secretary to Cabinet Frans Kapofi, and senior police officers among others. The high-powered South African delegation included that country’s Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa, the Public Enterprise Minister Alec Erwin and Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. Mbeki and his entourage were then whisked away to State House where they had further red-carpet treatment. While at the president’s official residence, the visitors engaged in a closed-door working session that focused on bilateral issues particularly on trade, tourism and how to fortify the warm relations existing between the two countries. After being feted to a stately luncheon at State House, Mbeki and his delegation left to return to Waterkloof, and were seen off by his counterpart and cabinet ministers.