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Obama arrives in South Africa on official visit amid protests


09:31, June 29, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, June 28 (Xinhua) -- U. S. President Barack Obama arrived in South Africa Friday evening on a three-day official visit aimed at promoting bilateral ties and seeking business opportunities.

Shortly after landing at the Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria, Obama and his family were taken away by a helicopter to Johannesburg, a TV footage showed.

South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was at the airport to greet the Obama family.

The visit came amid massive protests in front of the U. S. embassy in Pretoria and several other places.

Hundreds of people gathered in Pretoria hours before Obama's visit, demanding that the U. S. stops its aggressive policy against humanity.

The protests were organized by the No You Can't Obama Campaign (Nobama), the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

Protesters shouted anti-American slogans and held banners, one of which reads: "US -- the biggest human rights violater."

Organizers say the U. S. aggressive police lead to crimes against humanity in relation to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Middle East conflict, globalization and global warming.

COSATU International Relations Secretary Bongani Masuku said the protest was held to demand an end to US "warmongering".

However, the South African government calls Obama's visit "historic".

"South Africa values its warm and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States immensely. This is a significant visit which will take political, economic and people to people relations between the two countries to a higher level, while also enhancing cooperation between U. S. and the African continent at large," said a statement from the Presidency.

The U. S. is a major trade, investment, tourism and technology partner for South Africa. There are 600 U. S. companies in South Africa, employing more than 150,000 local people.

South African President Jacob Zuma will meet Obama on Saturday to discuss several crucial issues, including trade, investment, U. S. commitment to Africa and democratic developments in the continent.

On Saturday afternoon Obama will address students at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus. But student organizations say Obama will be confronted with a massive protest.

Obama will then travel to Cape Town on Sunday where he will visit Robben Island where former South African President Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of imprisonment. Obama will then make a key- note speech at the University of Cape Town.

Obama will travel to Tanzania after winding up his trip to South Africa on Sunday. He has already visited Senegal.

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