Speaking in a television interview from his official residence at No. 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Edward Heath today (Monday) spoke of Britain's negotiations for entry into the European Common Market, and defended his Government's position on the sales of arms to South Africa.
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TRANSCRIPT (SEQ 3)
HEATH: "Well, Mr. Rippon has said quite rightly that the negotiations so far have gone reasonably well. The spade-work had been done, some agreements have been reached on some of the smaller points. But it is not until we come to the big issues that we can really see whether the negotiations are going to be acceptable, whether its going to be a successful one."
REPORTER: "Mr. Rippon seemed to be saying that the main question was where we sign the Treaty, I think, in the House of Commons, the other day ?"
HEATH: "No, I don't think so. Mr. Rippon realizes full well what the major problems are - we all do.
REPORTER: "Mr. Ian Smith is congratulating the British on at last having a Prime Minister who is prepared to sell arms to his friends and supporters in Apartheid South Africa. Are you happy about that kind of congratulations?"
HEATH: "Well, I think its immaterial. I'm concerned with British interests and I and the Government try to decide policies in the light of British interests - and this is the question as far as the proposed sale of arms to South Africa is concerned. We've got the Simonstown Agreement, we use the Simonstown Base, so did our predecessors. We take place in naval manoeuvres with the South African Navy. And we know perfectly well of the movement of Soviet forces into the Mediterranean - for the first time bases outside their country - the Soviet Navy in the Mediterranean, Soviet forces in Egypt, effective in Aden the Soviet influence. We see it moving down in Somalia, Sudan and so on. And, if the Canal were to be opened, then of course access to the Indian Ocean would be very much easier for them."
REPORTER: "Do you not think it is possible, Prime Minister, that if we are seen to gang up with the South Africans, the Black Africans will feel themselves forced into the arms of the Russians?"
HEATH: "No, I don't. But this doesn't alter the fact there are, as you describe them, 'black African ' countries where the Soviet influence is already paramount. There is also one in which Chinese influence is very great. This has not been caused by anything that we have done - but we must take cognisance of this and the situation that exists as far as our own position is concerned in the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic."
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Background: Speaking in a television interview from his official residence at No. 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Edward Heath today (Monday) spoke of Britain's negotiations for entry into the European Common Market, and defended his Government's position on the sales of arms to South Africa.
Answering a question on the Common Market negotiations being currently carried out by Britain's representative, Mr. Geoffrey Rippon, Mr. Heath said: