British Diplomat Meets Foreign Minister, Businessmen, Lawyers With AM-South Africa, Bjt
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ White business leaders told the British foreign secretary Sunday tough economic sanctions against South Africa would be counterproductive and that all black leaders must participate in negotiations about the country’s future.
″Unless everyone who is relevant is at the conference table, we won’t be able to get a satisfactory outcome in the long term,″ said Raymond Parsons, executive director of the Associated Chambers of Commerce.
His comments came after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe at the British Embassy in Pretoria. No black leaders were mentioned specifically, Parsons said.
″It was a very realistic discussion. We looked at various options. We made it very clear that South African business, of course, is against any further sanctions as being quite counterproductive,″ Parsons said.
Howe spent Sunday at the embassy meeting with a series of representatives from human rights groups, the legal and business community, as well as politicians. He then had an informal discussion with Foreign Minister R.F. Botha.
He said when he arrived in Johannesburg last Wednesday that his mission on behalf of the 12-nation European Common Market was to convince the South African government to negotiate with black leaders and release political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, the leader of the banned African National Congress black guerilla organization who is serving a life sentence imposed in 1964 for sabotage.
Many black leaders refused to meet with Howe, including the leaders of anti-apartheid groups, black labor union leaders, and Desmond Tutu, Anglican bishop of Johannesburg.
Howe met with President P.W. Botha on the day of his arrival, and will have a second meeting Tuesday, before returning to Europe to report on his progress. The Common Market was expected to take up the issue of punitive economic sanctions against South Africa, depending on Howe’s report.
Britain is the largest foreign investor in South Africa. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has held out against sanctions, saying they would cause widespread suffering among South Africa’s black majority, as well as its neighbors, and would not force an end to apartheid.
Under South Africa’s system of racial segregation known as apartheid, 5 million whites dominate 24 million voteless blacks. The country has been under a state of emergency since June 12, with the press banned from reporting the activities of the security forces, the names of people detained or any statements deemed subversive.
In a related development, Thatcher said in an interview published Sunday that it would be ″absolutely absurd″ to break up the Commonwealth over the issue of whether to imose tough economic sanctions against South Africa.
In an interview in The Sunday Telegraph, Mrs. Thatcher conceded that next month’s Commonwealth conference was going to be tough but she said Britain would maintain its staunch opposition sanctions. The Commonwealth is an association of Britain and its former colonies.