Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks on Diplomatic Negotiations in Southern Africa.

September 24, 1976

I AM very pleased to hear of the announcement today by [Prime Minister] Ian Smith of Rhodesia. On behalf of the Rhodesian authorities, he has accepted proposals that can head off an escalating conflict and should produce negotiations which can bring southern Africa closer to peace.

The United States is proud to have made a contribution, but we have not done so alone. The principles of the settlement set forth are based on the plan outlined by Prime Minister Callaghan on March 22. I wish to pay tribute to the Prime Minister and to the United Kingdom with whom we have closely cooperated. Farsighted and indispensable contributions were also made by the various African Presidents. I would like as well to acknowledge the constructive role played by Prime Minister Vorster of South Africa.

The road is now open for an African solution to an African problem--free of outside intervention, violence, and bitterness. This has been the objective of the United States and the purpose of the skillful and energetic diplomacy that we have pursued. We call on other nations to support, not impede, the African search for a peaceful settlement.

The United States is prepared to continue to help. We will not prescribe for the peoples of Africa what only they can bring about. But we will be available to lend our full support to the efforts of the British, the Rhodesians of both races, and the African States concerned.

It is my earnest hope that the several parties will now move swiftly to establish the conditions for independence in which all of its peoples can live together in harmony. Today we have seen an act of realism that is the first step toward that goal. With good will on all sides that vision can become a reality.

A threat to world peace has been eased. We can take satisfaction in the role we have played. I extend nay best wishes to the peoples of Rhodesia and of all Africa. I call on all nations to help them shape a future of peace, prosperity, and human dignity.

Note: The President spoke at 4:32 p.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks on Diplomatic Negotiations in Southern Africa. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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