Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Release of Black Leaders by the Government of South Africa

December 7, 1984

The President and the American people welcome the news that 11 black South African leaders have been released by the South African Government today. This is an action that we have publicly and privately urged on the South African Government since the day these individuals were detained over 3 weeks ago. Among those released are key trade union officials, including Phiroshaw Camay and Chris Dlamini.

This action is evidence in our view that the South African Government is prepared to respond constructively to those, both within and outside the country, who support a meaningful dialog between the Government and representatives of all racial groups. As the President explained to Bishop Tutu today, we have long called for such a dialog which would encourage progress away from apartheid toward a system based on the consent of all South Africans. Similarly, we have long pointed to the importance of the healthy development of a genuine trade union movement in South Africa. Today's news lends hope to those prospects.

Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House at 3:30 p.m.