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S. African View of Supervisor's Visit

May 12, 1985

I refer to your editorial "Wieder's Trip a Waste of Time" (April 14) and report by Jeffrey Perlman (April 15) concerning Supervisor Harriett Wieder's visit to my country, South Africa:

While the man in the street may generally be ignorant of normal international diplomatic custom, such as a visitors program, I find it hard to believe that an editor of a major newspaper, albeit the Orange County edition, should be so ill-informed.

We live in a shrinking world where expanding trade, communication and understanding are mankind's only hope for the future. Whether you like it or not, Orange County is not an isolated island.

The development of trade by businesses in your county is indispensable to the creation of employment and prosperity for your citizens. In fact, an earlier editorial of yours (Aug. 12, 1984) stated "about 25% of Orange County's 900 largest companies do business internationally."

In the United States, the number of workers and their families supported by trade with South Africa would exceed, at a conservative estimate, a quarter of a million.

The same editorial, by praising Supervisor Wieder's role in promoting an international visitors center and protocol office, contributed to the invitation extended to her by my office.

There is no denying that Africa is a controversial continent, the famine in many countries and lack of democratic and social progress being evidence thereof. My country as an African country is not immune to the problems of our continent and we are trying to find solutions by avoiding the pitfalls that have taken place in Africa.

South Africa, in contrast to many countries, welcomes visitors to come and see for themselves the complexities of our society before judging the issues.

Your newspaper deems it fit to have sent an accredited correspondent to reside in South Africa to inform, inter alios, Orange County's residents on developments there. Surely you do not oppose our program of inviting people of all shades of political opinion to visit, or are you now prescribing to United States citizens what they may or may not do, or where they may travel?

Have you decided that my country should be censored or forbidden from engaging in normal diplomacy? Do you consider your supervisors as persons of no consequence in your community and have you objected to visits by any other public figure to any other country, and will you in the future, or are you being selective in your judgment?

LESLIE B. LABUSCHAGNE

South African Consulate-General,

Beverly Hills

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