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Senators, Shultz Clash Over S. Africa Policy

July 23, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State George P. Shultz pleaded with Congress today not to bind the Reagan Administration in a "straitjacket of rigid legislation" aimed at punishing the white minority government of South Africa. In a sharp exchange, one senator told Shultz he was "ashamed" of the U.S. policy.

Shultz told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that a bill passed by the House calling for complete U.S. disinvestment from South Africa amounts to "a declaration of economic war" that would "end our capacity to have any positive influence on the struggle for justice and human rights in southern Africa.

"Other legislation, although less extreme, would similarly weaken our ability to have a positive effect on what happens in South Africa," Shultz said.

Nothing Has Worked

But Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) complained that "blacks have tried everything available to them in the last 20 years" and nothing has worked.

Biden said there were few or no options open to blacks. Shultz retorted, "I hate to hear a senator of the United States calling for violence."

Biden answered, "I am not calling for violence . . . but I am ashamed at the lack of moral backbone" of U.S. policy.

"I resent that deeply," Shultz said. "There is plenty of moral backbone there."

Shultz heard criticism of the Administration policy from both Republicans and Democrats on the committee, along with predictions that some type of sanctions bill would pass the Senate.

Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan.) said: "I agree with the President that we must not cut and run from South Africa. But neither can we simply sit down and shut up."

'Action Must Be Taken'

Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.) said: "Some action must be taken by the U.S. government. . . . We need precise and specific steps" against Pretoria's government."

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