Before leaving London on his mission to southern Africa, Mr. Ivor Richard, Britain's Ambassador to?
SCU INTERIOR Chairman of Geneva conference on Rhodesia, Ivor Richard, seated with Visnews reporter Paul Toulmin-Rothe
SV Richard across tarmac, boarding plane and plane taxiing (2 shots)
TOULMIN-ROTHE: "Mr. Richard, which countries will you be visiting on this trip to Africa?"
RICHARD: "Well, I am starting off in Zambia, then going to Salisbury, then to South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique and Tanzania."
TOULMIN-ROTHE: "Have you got anything new to take to the front-line presidents?"
RICHARD: "Oh certainly. I mean the whole object of this trip is frankly so that we can explore with them some new ideas which we have had since Geneva Part One came to an end just before Christmas. As I said at the end of that we had really spent eight weeks in Geneva listening to the views of all the delegations. It clearly was now for us to try and pull the whole thing together and produce some ideas of our own. We came to the conclusion that the only way really of squaring the circle was to have a direct British presence in the interim government. And the main thing that I hope to do with the Presidents and with the Nationalist leaders themselves and with Mr. Smith and the government of South Africa is to explore precisely what sort of British presence they feel would be helpful in the interim government.
TOULMIN-ROTHE: "There seems to have ben an escalation in guerrilla activity in the last few weeks. Do you feel this is a very depressing sign from your point of view?"
RICHARD: "It is a very depressing sign in the sense that the war is going on. But of course the whole object of these negotiations is to bring the war to an end. If we do get a transitional government then we do get a peaceful transition from minority rule to majority rule then the war will of course stop."
Mr. Richard's African "shuttle" follows a similar trip last September by United States Secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Dr. Kissinger, with South African backing, persuaded Ian Smith to accept the idea of a multi-racial interim government to take Rhodesia to black majority rule within two years.
Mr. Richard's diplomatic initiative is aimed at breaking a deadlock over the shape of an interim government in Rhodesia before the Geneva negotiations reconvene. In almost eight weeks of the recent Geneva talks Mr. Smith refused to budge from the so-called "kissinger Plan". According to Mr. Smith, this provides for a two-tier interim government with substantial powers, including control of the army and police, in white hands. But the nationalist delegations, while at odds on the precise shape of one proposed interim government, reject almost totally the "Kissinger package" and want control of the army and police taken out of white hands. Mr. Richard's visit could be overshadowed by super-power rivalry in southern Africa. Africa diplomatic sources in Moscow quoted by Reuters said on Tuesday (28 December) that President Nikolai Podgorny of the U.S.S.R. planned to visit Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique early next year.
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Background: Before leaving London on his mission to southern Africa, Mr. Ivor Richard, Britain's Ambassador to the United Nations, said he hoped to return with the outline of a package agreement for resuming the Geneva conference on Rhodesia's future. Mr. Richard, the chairman of the first round of Geneva talks which broke up inconclusively in mid-December, said that his main aim was to explore the possibilities of British participation in an interim government. He talked to Visnews reporter Paul Toulmin-Rothe.