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S Africa says inquiry found no evidence of arms shipment to Russia


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday an inquiry into a U.S. allegation that a Russian ship had picked up weapons in South Africa late last year found no evidence the vessel had transported weapons to Russia.

“None of the allegations made about the supply of weapons to Russia have been proven to be true,” Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation.

“No permit was issued for the export of arms and no arms were exported,” he said.

In claims that sparked a diplomatic row, the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, told local journalists in a May briefing that Russian cargo ship Lady R had uploaded weapons at a naval base near Cape Town in December.

The U.S. accusations raised questions over South Africa’s professed stance of non-alignment and neutrality over Russia’s war in Ukraine and concerns of possible Western sanctions.

South African officials were quick to reject the claims, with Ramaphosa’s government launching an independent inquiry led by a retired judge.

(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Ros Russell)

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