Thatcher, Mandela Agree to Disagree on Sanctions, Armed Struggle
LONDON (AP) _ Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela agreed they can do business together, even though their first meeting Wednesday failed to resolve differences over sanctions and the use of violence.
Mrs. Thatcher welcomed the black South African leader, just three years after she denounced his African National Congress as a terrorist organization and said she would have nothing to do with it.
″They had a very good exchange. They agreed to keep in touch,″ said a spokesman for Mrs. Thatcher, who cannot be identified under briefing rules. ″The objective of establishing a personal relationship and rapport was fully achieved.″
Mandela, in an unusual description of the British leader whose toughness has earned her the reputation of ″the iron lady,″ called Mrs. Thatcher ″warm and gentle.″
The ANC’s deputy president said he came away ″full of hope and strength″ from their three-hour meeting at the prime minister’s residence at No. 10 Downing Street.
Picking up on Mrs. Thatcher’s well-known phrase that she could ″do business″ with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, a reporter asked Mandela if he felt he could do business with her.
″Oh yes, I’m doing business with her now,″ he replied. ″We made progress ... We will keep in close contact.″
Unlike the other leaders on Mandela’s world tour, Mrs. Thatcher openly opposes sanctions and wants those imposed by the European Community relaxed as a reward for South African President F.W. de Klerk’s reform program.
Like President Bush, Mrs. Thatcher also wants the ANC to renounce its armed struggle against the white minority government.
Mandela has insisted that the sanctions remain in place for now to keep pressure on the South African government to dismantle the apartheid system. He also has said the ANC cannot renounce the armed struggle until blacks are guaranteed their political rights.
Mandela had earlier expressed hope that his meeting with Mrs. Thatcher would narrow their differences on these two issues. But in the end they apparently agreed to disagree without debating the issues extensively.
Asked about the ANC’s armed struggle, Mandela said, ″We don’t believe in force as a means of solving problems. If we resorted to force it’s because we had no other option except to use force to defend our people.″
Mandela said the ANC is ″now mobilizing the country around peace,″ but could not rule out resorting to violence if existing conditions in South Africa do not change.
Mrs. Thatcher’s spokesman said the prime minister and Mandela agreed on the main issue of getting rid of apartheid and focused on ″the broader issue of the way ahead ... including the changes in apartheid laws, the economy and the importance of flexibility.″
Before the midday meeting, 300 anti-apartheid demonstrators rallied at the end of Downing Street and chanted as Mandela’s limousine went through the gates blocking off the street.
Mandela’s two-day visit to Britain ended the European and North American legs of his 14-nation world tour. Before flying to Zambia, he said his meetings had surpassed expectations.
″Our message for the maintenance of sanctions has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,″ he said. ″Our appeal for resources has been equally successful, in some respects again beyond our expectations.″
At his Wednesday morning meeting with leaders of the Confederation of British Industry, Mandela said he viewed nationalization as the method for redistributing South Africa’s wealth to reduce the disparity in living standards between blacks and whites. But he added he was open to other options.
On the economic issues, Mandela said his views and Mrs. Thatcher’s ″were not altogether identical.″ The prime minister’s spokesman said she opposed nationalization.
British investment accounts for 50 percent of the total foreign investment in South Africa and two-way trade in 1989 was worth just over $3.2 billion.