At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim has come on to the sidelines of talks on the future independence of Namibia.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim has come on to the sidelines of talks on the future independence of Namibia. He has held separate meetings with Britain's Foreign Secretary David Owen, the South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha, and the President of the South West African Peoples Organisation (SWAPO), Sam Nujoma. Although Dr. Waldheim is not taking an active part in the independence talks, he has been keeping up to date on developments.
SYNOPSIS: Dr. Waldheim saw three of the key negotiators in turn, starting with the SWAPO chief, Sam Nujoma. The South African delegation has so far refused to meet the SWAPO representatives for direct talks, saying they regard it as a "terror organisation".
After his meeting with the SWAPO leader, Dr. Waldheim saw Dr. David Owen to hear his views on the prospects for agreement on a Namibia independence package acceptable to all the parties in the negotiations. The central issue at stake in the current round of talks is the question of South African troop withdrawal from the territory.
The Secretary General then met with South Africa's Foreign Minister Pik Botha, who has been heading the Republic's negotiating team for more than a year. Afterwards, Mr. Botha refused to elaborate on what had been discussed, except to say he and Dr. Waldheim had exchanged views on possible U.N. involvement during and after Namibian elections.
The other parties in the conference are West Germany, the United States, France and Canada. Originally, this round of talks was scheduled to end on Sunday (12 February), but it was expected to carry on for an extra day. Dr. Owen told reporters more time was needed. "Compromise is a difficult thing to achieve in this day and age," he said.