March 4, 1986

Today in Cape Town, the Government of South Africa proposed that August 1, 1986, be set as the date for the beginning of implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 435. That resolution outlines the procedures leading to the independence of Namibia. The South Africans have made implementation of this date contingent on reaching prior agreement on a timetable for Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola.

The United States Government welcomes South Africa's announcement as a significant and positive step in the negotiations to achieve Namibia's independence, the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola and, more broadly, peace in the region. The opportunity now exists for rapid movement toward a settlement which will bring Namibia to independence. This opportunity should be seized. It is now incumbent upon all the parties to the negotiations to intensify their diplomatic efforts. The United States is prepared to move rapidly to encourage the parties in this effort. With this in mind, the Secretary [of State] has asked Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Frank G. Wisner to travel immediately to southern Africa for consultations with governments in the region.

We welcome the South African Government's announcement that it would lift the state of emergency within the next few days. We have long urged that the state of emergency be lifted as one of the steps the South African Government must take to create conditions in which it will be possible to begin negotiations with credible black leaders leading to meaningful reform and a reduction in violence.

Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters at 9:18 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.