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Banker Denies He Quit Over Lack of South African Reform With AM-South Africa, Bjt

July 5, 1986

ZUMIKON, Switzerland (AP) _ Retired banker Fritz Leutwiler, denying he has stepped down as mediator between South Africa and its creditor banks, said Friday he was ready to resume the role, which formally ended months ago.

Leutwiler’s spokesman Erich Heini said Thursday that the banker decided to quit three weeks ago over the lack of reform in South Africa, a statement the mediator swiftly disavowed in an interview with Swiss state radio’s short-wave service.

The statement prompted surprise among bankers and officials in South Africa. Leutwiler told The Associated Press on Friday that the error was due to a misunderstanding in an exchange of notes between him and his spokesman.

″I can’t lay down a mandate that I don’t have anymore,″ Leutwiler said, noting his role ended in February with the signing of a debt accord between South Africa and 29 creditor banks.

But Leutwiler, who has repeatedly linked his involvement to political reforms by the Pretoria government, added that he was disappointed with developments in South Africa.

Asked whether he might resume mediation in the future, he said: ″I don’t rule out anything,″ adding that the question would arise next spring at the earliest.

The February agreement called for South Africa to resume paying back its $14 billion short-term debt after March 31, 1987.

Leutwiler, former president of the Swiss National Bank and the Bank for International Settlements, said the plan was short-term and not a rescheduling agreement.

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