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Visit of President Nyerere of Tanzania Remarks to Reporters Following the President's Departure

August 05, 1977

REPORTER. Mr. President, has President Asad made it more difficult to arrange for a Geneva conference?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. I haven't gotten any reports lately. I'd rather not comment on it, not yet.

Q. What can you tell us, sir, about the outcome of the visit with President Nyerere?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, President Nyerere is a man who has the best insight into African problems of anyone I've ever met. I think he has the trust and confidence of almost all of the other nations in Africa and obviously is a natural scholar, student, historian, and political leader. He and I have reached, I think, almost complete agreement over the goals and purposes of diplomatic efforts relating to Rhodesia and Namibia. And we will try to carry out those purposes, working as closely as we can together, recognizing, of course, that many other nations and leaders will be involved.

But we have, I think, made a great deal of progress in our meetings these last 2 days, and I've developed an increasing respect for him.

Q. Did he say that he would let the American-British effort run to see if it could have a successful consequence?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we hope and expect that the basic premises of a so called British and American plan would be supported by President Nyerere. He can speak for himself. So far as I know, they are.

Secretary Vance will be consulting with the British officials in London, with perhaps the Foreign Minister of South Africa, and if the schedule can be arranged, subsequent to that meeting, with President Nyerere directly. And following that series of meetings, which will .be completed, I think, on the 13th of this month, we'll have a much clearer picture of where we go from here on both Rhodesia and Namibia.

I think all parties have come a long way in the last few weeks. We don't know what the SWAPO leaders will decide. Sam Najoma is now in New York to give the viewpoint of the Namibian political leaders in exile, known as SWAPO, and I think they'll be consulting with our representative, Ambassador McHenry, within the next couple of days. We have not yet gotten from them their views.

If there is a general agreement between South Africa, the frontline presidents, ourselves, and SWAPO, then I think the United Nations would be prepared to move to implement free elections in Namibia without further delay.

Q. Mr. President, did President Nyerere agree to convene a conference of frontline states, or what was the[inaudible.]

THE PRESIDENT. I think that would have to wait until after he met with Secretary Vance on the 13th. If things go according to our hopes, then I think that he would naturally bring together the other frontline presidents to see if their views were compatible with his own. I hope that will come about.

Q. Mr. President, President Nyerere also called for stricter enforcement of U.N. sanctions against the southern African minority--[inaudible]--as well as fewer American--[inaudible]--in South Africa. Are you prepared to support those efforts?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that that decision would have to depend on the degree of good faith which we detect among the South African leaders, in trying to bring about the purposes of the United Nations, and the citizens of Rhodesia and Namibia. We have lately been encouraged by constructive moves in South Africa concerning Namibia. There are still some difficult questions to be resolved. But I think at this point, the best thing to do is to encourage South Africa to continue their cooperative attitude and to join in under United Nations Resolution 385 in bringing about a free Namibia. If so, I think the threat of additional sanctions would be inappropriate.

Now, if the South Africans become an obstacle to further progress, then some sort of additional influence on our part against South Africa would probably be advisable.

Q. The reason we were asking about President Asad, we wonder if in turning down the working group concept, he wasn't, however, leaving the door open to some other way of making a preparation for Geneva?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it would be a mistake to attach too much importance to news reports and press conference statements at the conclusion of the meetings, because there are literally hundreds of options being discussed with each one of these leaders. Almost all of them are reluctant to make a unilateral statement until we know what the attitude of the other leaders might be.

And following the visit of Secretary Vance to Egypt, to Lebanon, to Syria and, now, to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, he'll go back to Israel and that will conclude his first interviews. If necessary, he will then consult with some of the Arab leaders about the reaction of Israel to their proposals.

Q. He might go back to Mr. Asad?

THE PRESIDENT. Either go back physically or communicate with him directly. But I think it's such a fluid thing, and there are so many conflicting options, that we are trying to find some formula by which those conflicting options might be harmonized, at least for a next step toward a peaceful resolution.

But it's an extremely difficult question, and I think to emphasize the few negative aspects of disagreements at this point possibly distorts the progress or minimizes progress that is being made.

I still believe that all the leaders in the Middle East genuinely want to have peace, obviously on their own terms. But I also believe that they are willing to negotiate and depart from their own previous terms if they feel that they can have their own security guaranteed and an end to the constant threat of war.

Q. Do you think Geneva is still a probability?

THE PRESIDENT. I think so, yes.

Q. With Palestinian representation?

THE PRESIDENT. I'll have to wait until later to answer that.

Note: The President spoke at 12:10 p.m. on the South Grounds of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of President Nyerere of Tanzania Remarks to Reporters Following the President's Departure Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243754

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