The British Prime Minister, Mr Edward Heath, said today 22 January that the Declaration of Principles agreed upon at the Commonwealth Conference in Singapore did not conflict with British government proposals to sell arms to South Africa.
SCU Mr Heath (Robin Day from rear at right)
(SAME SHOT) ZOOMS into CU of Heath
CU Robin Day
CU Heath speaks (SOF)
TRANSCRIPT: DAY: "Prime Minister do you regard the declaration of principles as a victory for the view of the Commonwealth on which you have been insisting throughout this conference.
HEATH: I think the declaration is a valuable document. And the two things which I wanted to establish was that it should be unambiguous -- if it's ambiguous, then it enables, a situation arises in which countries can accuse each other of bad faith; I think in the long run that's the worst possible thing for the Commonwealth -- and the second thing upon which I insisted was that it should give to each sovereign state its independent right of decision; and this is clearly embodied in the declaration. I am glad that we have been able to reach agreement on it; and I am satisfied with it.
DAY: In other words you have got a declaration which would not conflict with your proposal to sell arms to South Africa?
HEATH: That is quite right. Yes.
DAY: Have you made any gesture at all at this conference to meet the fears of those such as President Kaunda who sea you as wanting to arm their enemy?
HEATH: First of all one has to explain to them what all this is about. And if I have been surprised at this conference it is that after six months of consultation there is so little realisation of what the situation about the Indian Ocean and the routes round Africa and the Simonstown arrangements and so on were Now you then have to say this has nothing whatever to do with apartheid, nor with attacks on other African countries; first of all on apartheid, because the weapons cannot be used for internal purposes; and secondly when during the six months discussions with individual African leaders I heard about fears that there might be an attack on them. I first of all suggested a non-aggression pact, which is a perfectly natural thing, we ourselves have had it with countries whom we feared, but they were not prepared to accept that, and secondly we then asked the South African government for an assurance that if they asked for arms for maritime defence, and if we supplied them they would then not be used for any purpose other than that which we stipulated, and they gave us that assurance.
DAY: President Nyerere said that assurances are a waste of time?
HEATH: Yes. Well I strongly disagree with him. This is one of the difficulties of attitude which have to be broken down.
Initials JON/BOB/SGM/0136 JON/BOB/SGM/0148
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Background: The British Prime Minister, Mr Edward Heath, said today 22 January that the Declaration of Principles agreed upon at the Commonwealth Conference in Singapore did not conflict with British government proposals to sell arms to South Africa. Mr Heath was being interviewed on television by Mr Robin Day. He told viewers that he had sought to establish two things about the Declaration of Principles, that it should be unambiguous and that it should recognise each sovereign state's right of decision.