H.E. Sir Geoffrey Howe

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs


Sir Geoffrey,

I am most grateful for your kind letter of 18 July 1986 which has now reached me, and greatly appreciate the trouble you have taken to communicate to us your views on the South African situation.

With regard to the penultimate paragraph of the letter, it will regrettably not be possible for me to travel to Brussels before the 5th or 6th of August.

I have noted with great interest the observations you make in the rest of your letter, to which I shall be replying more fully. For the moment, I wish to recall that two weeks ago, the ANC made it known that we would not meet you on your visit to southern Africa. The reasons given then for our decision remain valid.

We are convinced that the idea of the mission was conceived in London in the context of a rejection by the British Government of the findings and recommendations of the report submitted by the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons (EPG) and was calculated to render irrelevant the Nassau decisions, the EPG Mission to South Africa and even the Commonwealth mini-summit convening in August expressly to consider the EPG Report as decided by the 49 Commonwealth Heads of State and Government who met in Nassau. We did not and do not see our way clear to participating in a process so obviously designed to evade and indefinitely postpone decisive action to end the apartheid system. In this regard, the statements repeatedly made by the British Prime Minister have, to say the least, been wholly unhelpful.

We accept that the European Community, and possibly even the United States Government, have since assumed responsibility for the mission. But, in our view, this does not alter its fundamental purpose and effect.

I wish to emphasise that we intend no disrespect either to the British Government, to the European Community or to you personally, Sir Geoffrey. Indeed, I would be honoured to meet you, outside of the context of your current mission to South Africa, to discuss the burning question of the need for decisive international action to bring a speedy end to the apartheid system.

We have over the years benefited from discussions we have had at various levels of governments with most of the member States of the European Community, and would welcome an opportunity for closer contact.

I would ask that your Ministry maintains contact with my Office in Lusaka with a view to arranging dates which might be suitable for our meeting.

Please accept, Sir, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Oliver Tambo


African National Congress

July 21, 1986

From: Press Release of the ANC Office, London

ES Reddy