Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on South African Military Raids

May 19, 1986

On the occasion of South African military strikes into Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, the United States stands with the governments and peoples of those countries in expressing our sense of outrage at these events and our condolences to the families of the victims. We vigorously condemn these attacks by South Africa. Our diplomacy in South Africa has been aimed at stopping cross-border violence. Such efforts have had results. We would note that senior officials of South Africa and its neighbors have held regular and productive consultations on issues of security and respect for international borders.

We believe these military actions to be particularly inexplicable in the light of ongoing efforts among those neighbors to maintain good working relations and communication on security problems. The ongoing process had clearly not exhausted all possibilities for peaceful remedy of the issues. We find the South African raids are all the more difficult to fathom, given current efforts of the Commonwealth's Eminent Persons Group, which is currently in the region, engaged in highly sensitive discussions to promote dialog between blacks and whites in South Africa.

The United States has made clear for many years its strong opposition to, and condemnation of, violent means by any party as a method for resolving South Africa's problems. And we stand by the principle that political avenues should be given every opportunity.

Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters at 9:28 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.