Malta's Prime Minister Dom Mintoff told newsmen on Friday (24 June) that he would soon announced an agreement under which France, Italy, Algeria and Jamahiriyah (formerly Libya) would guarantee Malta's neutrality and territorial sovereignty after March 1979.
GV INTERIOR Premier Don Mintoff talks to newsmen in Maltese (2 shots)
CU Interpreter reads Mintoff's statement in English
CU Mintoff speaking in English
INTERPRETER: "When the Labour government came into power in 1971, we told the NATO Commander-in-Chief that he was a persona non grata. And NATO... We then started negotiations with the British government. These negotiations took months. At the time there were suspicions that we were Communists and that we were leaning towards the Soviet Union. But, after we received the support of Libya, and later, Italy, we reached an agreement with the British government. The agreement has been a very good one and the proof of this is the fact that it is still working."
MINTOFF: "Malta's neutrality after 1979 is going to have real substance. One condition is the integrity and sovereignty of our territory. And we are too small to defend ourselves, and therefore we need a guarantee for our neutrality."
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Background: Malta's Prime Minister Dom Mintoff told newsmen on Friday (24 June) that he would soon announced an agreement under which France, Italy, Algeria and Jamahiriyah (formerly Libya) would guarantee Malta's neutrality and territorial sovereignty after March 1979. A seven-year agreement with Britain and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) covering the lease of base facilities in Malta ends in 1979. Speaking at the end of a conference of Mediterranean Socialist parties and organisations, Mr Mintoff said he could not yet give any details on the new agreement.
Mr Mintoff first addressed the news conference in Maltese. He had asked the four countries in the new agreement to ensure Malta's territorial integrity and economic survival by making up financial losses that would follow the closure of British bases there. He said Malta had to be sure that it would not be attacked by anyone. Under the new agreement only Britain -- and not NATO forces -- could use Maltese bases after 1979.