The United States walked out of a United Nations meeting commemorating the first anniversary of the Soweto killings in South Africa on Thursday (16 June), after learning that Israel had not been invited to participate.
GV: U.N. African Group Chairman Ambassador Medoune Fall of Senegal speaking in French, and calling for a minute's silence. Participants in meeting rise.
GV: Participants standing during silence then sitting down. (3 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The United States walked out of a United Nations meeting commemorating the first anniversary of the Soweto killings in South Africa on Thursday (16 June), after learning that Israel had not been invited to participate. Representatives of a number of West European countries also spent much of the two-hour meeting discussing among themselves what action they should take -- and finally decide to remain. However, informed sources said their delegations would make their views known within the next few days to the Organisation of African Unity's United Nations observer office, which sent out invitations on behalf of the African group of states at the U.N.
A U.N. spokesman said that Secretary General Waldheim had not known that Israel had not been invited to the meeting. He added the U.N. facilities were provided for it in response to a request by the organisers, the African states, who also asked the Secretary General to be one of the speakers. Israeli U.N. representative Chaim Herzog later requested an urgent meeting with Mr Waldheim and was expected to see him on Friday (17 June).
SYNOPSIS: During the meeting the Chairman of the African group for June, Ambassador Medoune Fall of Senegal, made an emotional appeal to the participants to join him in observing one minute's silence in memory of those who died in the Soweto riots one year ago. Speaking in French, Monsieur Fall said that the people of Soweto, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and other towns in South Africa had risen up to defend justice, liberty and human dignity. He then called upon the meeting to honour the memory of those who had died.
Other speakers at the meeting included U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, General Assembly President Ambassador Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe of Sri Lanka, Security Council President Ambassador William Barton of Canada and Ambassador Radha Krishna Ramphul of Mauritius.
Thursday's meeting was officially designated as "The International Day of Solidarity with the Struggling People of South Africa". A resolution proclaiming the day was adopted last November by the U.N. General Assembly. No invitation was sent to South Africa, which was suspended from the General Assembly in 1974.