President Felix Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast yesterday (Wednesday, April 28) declared himself ready to enter into a peaceful dialogue with South Africa in an effort to end the policy of isolation which most of Black Africa has followed towards its Southern neighbour because of South Africa's policies of apartheid.
GV EXT. NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (2 SHOTS)
SV PRESSMEN INSIDE ASSEMBLY BUILDING
CU HOUPHOUET-BOIGNY SPEAKING AND DELEGATES LISTENING
SV DELEGATES APPLAUD
"Before I conclude this prefatory statement, for the length of which I beg your indulgence, allow me to refer to the necessity of a dialogue with South Africa. After close reflection, I believe that the dialogue with the white citizens of South Africa is feasible if it is carried out in a perspective of peace through neutrality, in an atmosphere of political neutrality, of peace which is of concern to all Africans - to the white population of South Africa as well as to ourselves. Indeed, the whites of South Africa must be well aware of the face that, in spite of their present superiority and so many years of disdainful silence, they have been the object of repeated condemnations by the United Nations.
After so many years of silence, a South African leader has publicly and openly made an overture. M. Vorster has, in fact, offered to receive us in South Africa on an equal footing. All of us who are motivated exclusively by the spirit of peace and the welfare of Africa will, as an act of faith and courage, respond favourably to the invitation of the South African premier. For how could it be possible for the whites of South Africa to have a good relationship with us, to show kindness and consideration to representatives of black and coloured people, strangers to their country, without a gradual reconversion of their way of thinking, and being brought to reexamine their present attitude toward their black and coloured nationals."
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Background: President Felix Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast yesterday (Wednesday, April 28) declared himself ready to enter into a peaceful dialogue with South Africa in an effort to end the policy of isolation which most of Black Africa has followed towards its Southern neighbour because of South Africa's policies of apartheid.
Speaking in French at a five-hour press conference in the National Assembly, President Houphouet-Boigny first referred to Ivorien history since independence, then went on to Africa's attempts to maintain a positive neutrality through a policy of non-alignment. But, he added, this policy could not be really practicable if the U.S.S.R. and the Chinese Popular Republic ever decided on a policy of " complete agreement to ensure the triumph of Communism in the world."
Then, coming to the subject closer to home, he spoke of South Africa's invitation to Black African leaders to meet for talks. A translation of this part of his speech is transcribed on the following commentary page.