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Nelson Mandela Says It’s Too Soon to Lift Sanctions

May 18, 1990

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) _ Nelson Mandela said today that any government that wants to lift sanctions against South Africa now either supports apartheid or ″is totally ignorant.″

The African National Congress leader said that although progress is being made toward winning black rights, it is too early to ease international pressure on the South African government.

Mandela spoke at a news conference as he ended a three-day visit to Algeria before going on to Libya. The black nationalist leader said he would urge European leaders next month not to lift sanctions because apartheid is still in place despite the reform initiatives of President F.W. de Klerk.

In an apparent reference to the policies of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s policies, Mandela said: ″Any country that argues the time has come to lift sanctions is totally ignorant of what is going on in South Africa, or is a supporter of apartheid.″

Mandela, freed in February after 27 years in prison, declined to answer when asked whether he would meet Mrs. Thatcher on his upcoming European tour. Mrs. Thatcher has opposed most sanctions against South Africa, arguing they would hurt the country’s black majority more than the white minority.

Mandela said de Klerk’s government is trying to take advantage of conflict among South African blacks in order to ″eliminate members of those organizations whom the authorities regard as a threat.″

But he said the ANC is prepared in forthcoming talks with the government to compromise on all matters except the principle of one person, one vote.

″We are prepared to address the fears of whites that this principle will bring one-sided rule,″ said Mandela. ″We are prepared to guarantee the basic rights of all people, black and white.″

″No one goes to a negotiating table if he is not prepared to compromise,″ he added. ″We are prepared to meet the government’s wishes in a compromise which is in the interest of the population of the country as a whole.″

Mandela had a long meeting Thursday with President Chadli Bendjedid during which he thanked the Algerian leader for support during his imprisonment. Mandela was due to meet Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, then go to Cairo to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

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