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Tutu Scorns Plans to Send Special U.S. Envoy to South Africa

July 27, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bishop Desmond Tutu, a leading black opponent of apartheid in South Africa, on Sunday scorned reported U.S. plans to send a special envoy there, saying such a step should be accompanied by an ultimatum to the white minority government.

″We’ve been getting too many special envoys,″ the Anglican bishop of South Africa said in an interview from Nairobi, Kenya on the NBC-TV program ″Meet the Press.″

At the White House, spokesman Don Mathes said no decision had been made on whether to send a special envoy or to extend sanctions President Reagan imposed last September to ban the import of South African gold coins and restrict bank loans and certain technology exports.

Congress has been pressing Reagan to impose tougher sanctions, and administration officials have said that the president might send his close friend, Sen. Paul Laxalt, R-Nev., on a mission to South Africa.

Last year, the president sent Laxalt the Philippines to urge then-president Ferdinand Marcos to reform his government to cope with corruption and a growing communist insurgency.

Tutu said that a similar envoy to South Africa would be useful if he told the government that ″unless you do these things within such and such a time frame, you’ve had it.″

The U.S. government should make demands, including: ″lifting the state of mergency, withdrawing the troops from our townships, releasing our political leaders unconditionally, including the present detainees, allowing exiles to come home and unbanning our political organizations,″ said Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his activism.

In a separate interview, Chester Crocker, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said the Reagan administration might renew its own moderate sanctions against South Africa past their expiration in September.

″If things don’t improve there’s a very clear likelihood we would go in that direction,″ said Crocker, interviewed on the CBS-TV program, ″Face the Nation.″

Tutu, who last week described Reagan’s stand on South Africa as ″nauseating,″ urged stronger U.S. action, and said the South African government must ″be willing to engage in very serious negotiations with those the people themselves chose as their authentic representatives and leaders.″

Sanctions that would send a message to the white minority government could include refusal of landing rights to South African aircraft, a boycott of telecommunications for a fixed period and ″something that would affect the price of gold,″ of which the nation is a major supplier, said Tutu.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Tutu’s proposal was ″very realistic and would lead to a program that could be accomplished without bloodshed.″

Lugar, also interviewed on NBC, said he planned to introduce his own sanctions proposal into the Senate this week, possibly calling for an end to landing rights in the United States, a freeze on South African bank accounts, a ban on new U.S. investment in South Africa, restrictions on visas for officials and an end to imports from companies owned by the South African government.

Lugar said he would oppose tougher sanctions proposed by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and others, seeking instead to garner bipartisan backing and a two-thirds majority for moderate steps that could withstand a possible Reagan veto.

The House already has passed a measure that would force U.S. companies to sell their investments in South Africa.

Lugar said he did not know whether Reagan would sign a bill containing his program, and Crocker said the administration opposed sanctions that ″wage indiscriminate economic war on the people of the region.″

However, Crocker said: ″We have not ruled out further measures. We’ve said that all along.″

He called some of Lugar’s ideas ″irrelevant,″ including a ban on new investments, since world capital markets are shunning South Africa on their own. That sends an important signal to the government that would be diluted by a formal law, Crocker said.

Crocker, who is going to London this week to confer on South Africa with European Common Market countries, said it was important that the United States not ″cut directlty across″ a British mission to South Africa and the Aug. 3 meeting of the Commonwealth Countries. South Africa was a member of the commonwealth until 1961.

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