HC Deb 04 April 1990 vol 170 cc1196-8
16. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with officials of the South African Government.

Mr. Hurd

I met President de Klerk, Mr. Pik Botha and other South African Ministers in Cape Town on 19 March. We had good talks, which reinforced my view that the South African Government are committed to fundamental reform. I also met several opposition leaders in South Africa and saw some of the 250 aid projects that Britain is supporting to help prepare black South Africans for the future after apartheid. I made it clear throughout that our aim is to see apartheid dismantled and to help the development of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic South Africa.

Mr. Hughes

The House will be encouraged by what the Secretary of State has said, but did he raise the additional important matter of the remaining residual debt of Namibia, which the International Court of Justice in 1971 ruled was improperly incurred during the period of South African administration? Apparently, the figure is 892 million rand—one third of Namibia's GDP. That debt should not have to be paid by Namibia but by South Africa. If the matter was not raised, will the Foreign Secretary undertake to raise it at the earliest opportunity?

Mr. Hurd

No, I did not raise the matter. I heard about it later when I was in Windhoek and I know that it is being discussed by the new Government of Namibia and the South African Government. We shall keep an eye on what happens.

Mr. John Carlisle

Since Mr. Mandela and the African National Congress have now pulled out of the intended talks with officials of the South African Government because of the continuing violence in the black townships, would not it be totally inappropriate for our Prime Minister to meet Mr. Mandela when he comes to London next week unless he and the ANC totally renounce the armed struggle and move towards a more peaceful solution in South Africa which must accommodate Chief Buthelezi and Inkatha?

Mr. Hurd

It is a pity that the meeting on 11 April has been postponed, but I understand that President de Klerk and Mr. Mandela intend to meet shortly. We hope that that will lead to talks about the talks which have been postponed and then into a wider grouping in which everyone expects leaders such as Chief Buthelezi to have a clear place.