President Reagan, in an interview released today, said evangelist Jerry Falwell's description of South African Bishop Desmond Tutu as "a phony" was an unfortunate choice of words and he is glad that Falwell apologized.
Reagan said in an interview with Atlanta radio station WSB that he believed Falwell was merely trying to express the views of many South Africans that Tutu is only one of several leaders in the country.
Tutu, who last year won the Nobel Peace Prize, has been a leader in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
Reagan's interview with WSB's Bob Mohan was conducted Saturday in Santa Barbara, where the President is vacationing. It was made available today.
In Washington last week after returning from a five-day South African visit, Falwell said, "If Bishop Tutu maintains that he speaks for the black people of South Africa, he is a phony."
Reagan said he was "very pleased to see his clarifying statement . . . and what he had to say about that, and his apology to Bishop Tutu.
"It seems, from what I could read, that his original statements were based on, not his own judgment, but on quotations from those people he had met with in South Africa, both blacks and whites.