As Commonwealth leaders took a weekend break from their summit conference in Singapore, the meeting's key issue remained undebated--whether Britain should sell maritime arms to South Africa.
SV Douglas Home walks with others
GV Singapore race course, horse race in progress.
CU Mauritian Foreign Minister Duval speaks
SV Lee Kwan Yew before start of press conference
SV Pressmen (2 shots)
CU Lee Kwan Yew speaking
TRANSCRIPT: DUVAL: (SEQ. 3) "When President Kaunda in a television interview in London said that Mauritius might be the alternative to supplying arms to South Africa, we started thinking about it. We have been consulting many African leaders, and the consensus of opinion seems to be among these leaders that this is really the answer to the maiden's prayer. If we can help, we are prepared to help in any way we can, and certainly we are prepared to give a base to America and Britain in Mauritius if that will make the other African countries happy."
LEE: (SEQ. 6) "I would have thought that everybody knows that the Straits of Malacca is part of the high seas. It happens also to be one of the main international shipping lanes, and when American ships of the Seventh Fleet go through it makes no great sensation. I wonder why two ships of the Russian Navy should cause all this flutter."
REPORTER: "You feel it has no bearing on the Conference?"
LEE: "Well, you will have to ask whoever planned the voyage. I don't think even the captain could have told you that, not even the person who ordered the captain to sail."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: As Commonwealth leaders took a weekend break from their summit conference in Singapore, the meeting's key issue remained undebated--whether Britain should sell maritime arms to South Africa. But two new twists were given to the story by two unrelated events, the passage of two Soviet warships through the Straits of Malacca on Friday (15 Jan.) and the announcement the same day that Mauritius is prepared to offer Britain facilities for an alternative base.
The Mauritian proposals mentioned on Friday by Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam were amplified yesterday (Saturday) at a news conference given by the island's Foreign Minister, Mr. Gaetan Duval. He also told pressmen how the Mauritian Government had arrived at the idea.
The British Government has given the Soviet naval build-up in the Indian Ocean as a reason for the proposed arms sale to South Africa. But Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew yesterday rejected any suggestion that the passage through the Malacca Straits of the two Soviet warships--a cruiser and a destroyer, later followed by two support ships--had any bearing on the conference.