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South African Leader Cancels Visit to U.S.

From Reuters

Frederik W. de Klerk, who is expected to be South Africa’s next president, Wednesday bowed to anti-apartheid pressure and turned down an invitation by U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III to visit the United States.

The announcement was made by Foreign Minister Roelof F. (Pik) Botha in Pretoria. De Klerk was in Mozambique on Wednesday for talks with the government there.

“It appears that elements within the American Congress are intent on making the visit as controversial as possible,” Botha said in a statement, adding that De Klerk “would like to avoid creating any obstacles to constructive discussion” by undertaking the trip.

Letter From Congress

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More than 100 members of the House of Representatives asked President Bush in a letter released Tuesday not to meet De Klerk unless South Africa relaxes its apartheid policies of racial separation and white minority rule and ends its three-year-old state of emergency.

“To meet with the National Party leader and anticipated president of South Africa without any significant political change by the white minority regime would send a terribly wrong signal concerning the direction of U.S. policy during the Bush Administration,” the letter stated.

No dates had been announced for the trip, but it had been expected that De Klerk would head for the United States toward the end of the month. He accepted a general invitation to visit Washington after Baker met with South African President Pieter W. Botha last May in Rome.


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