Argentina Breaks Diplomatic Ties With S. Africa

Times Staff Writer

In a sharp exchange of notes, Argentina broke diplomatic relations with South Africa on Thursday, calling the Pretoria regime “a threat to peace and international security.”

The Argentine decision left Brazil as the only major South American democracy to continue relations with Pretoria. It followed South African rejection of an Argentine protest against attacks earlier this week on Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Foreign Minister Dante Caputo summoned South African Charge d’Affaires Pieter Wolvaardt to the downtown Palace of San Martin to announce the Argentine decision, which was effective at nightfall Thursday. South African diplomatic personnel have until the end of the month to leave the country.


Noting that Argentina has protested South Africa’s raids into adjoining countries on Monday, a Foreign Ministry communique said, “The Argentine government is persuaded that such acts are direct consequence of a regime of institutionalized racial discrimination totally unacceptable in the framework of the contemporary international community.”

‘Threat to Peace’

The Argentine note said, “The persistence of such a regime constitutes a threat to peace and international security as reflected in repeated acts of aggression against neighboring nations and the illegitimate occupation of Namibia.”

The break ended 36 years of ties between the two South Atlantic nations. Relations had been particularly close during periods of military government in Argentina but have worsened steadily since the return of elected civilian government here in December, 1983.

Since then, direct flights between Buenos Aires and Johannesburg have been suspended and the level of diplomatic relations reduced to below ambassadorial level.

After meeting with Caputo on Thursday, Wolvaardt said in a communique of his own that he had been instructed by Pretoria “to inform Argentine authorities that the South African government considers the use of Argentine diplomacy unacceptable as an instrument to dissuade South Africa of security actions to control terrorism.”

It was not immediately clear what impact the break in relations would have on commercial ties between the two countries, which are favorable to Argentina. In the first 11 months of 1985, Argentine exports to South Africa totaled $71 million and imports only $13.5 million, a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy said Thursday night.