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Mandela rejects U.S.-Africa trade bill


Mandela says security under control

March 29, 1998
Web posted at: 2:37 p.m. EST (1937 GMT)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- President Nelson Mandela on Sunday welcomed African aid from the United States, but again firmly rejected any trade relations that would come with strings attached or limit transactions with such countries as Cuba, Libya or Iran.

"We welcome American aid. It has been useful in helping us address questions of poverty in our country," Mandela told CNN in an interview, commenting on U.S. assistance for South Africa.

icon CNN's Wolf Blitzer talks with Nelson Mandela
Part 1 - 14 min. VXtreme video
Part 2 - 9 min. VXtreme video

"But we resist any attempt by any country to impose conditions on our freedom of trade," he said.

Mandela was referring to the African Growth and Opportunity bill, currently before the U.S. Congress.

President Bill Clinton told American and South African business leaders earlier in the week that the bill would lay the foundation for a sound future relationship between the two countries.

icon President Nelson Mandela speaks with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "Late Edition" Sunday
Mandela on freedom-of-trade restrictions
(281 K / 23 sec. audio)

American Aid to South Africa
(536 K / 40 sec. audio)

Mandela responds to Blitzer's question about a coup
(255 K / 20 sec. audio)

"This is not charity, it's enlightened self-interest. It's a good thing for the United States and a good thing for Africa," Clinton said, mentioning U.S. investment possibilities and the expected return from those investments.

In his interview with CNN, Mandela criticized the bill. "The provisions in this bill, which restrict our freedom to trade with other countries, is something we find totally unacceptable."

The disagreement between the United States and South Africa -- to which Mandela has frankly admitted -- focuses on Cuba, Libya and Iran.

Washington would like to see other nations follow its own trade restrictions of these countries. But Mandela has repeatedly made clear that those nations were supportive of his anti-apartheid struggle and said that critics of his dealings with them could "throw themselves in a pool."

Mandela says security forces under control

Mandela also commented on a military report that suggested there had been a plot to overthrow his government.

"We are in complete command of the security forces in this country," Mandela said. He admitted that there were what he called "disloyal elements" in South Africa but added that "we will be able to deal with them swiftly and decisively, should they try anything."

On Friday, Mandela ordered an urgent judicial inquiry into the intelligence report, which he reportedly received in February. The report alleged there was a conspiracy within the government's security forces to depose him.

Mandela said the inquiry would focus not on the allegation of a coup but on how the intelligence report was compiled and sent to him, bypassing the defense minister.

Mandela has repeatedly warned of attempts by some people in the country to destabilize the post-apartheid government, and he has called on South Africans not to become complacent about the possible threat.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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