Mandela to seek British backing

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The Independent Online
NELSON MANDELA flies to London next week with the intention of convincing John Major that Britain should take the lead in persuading industrialised countries to assist South Africa politically and economically in the task of building a stable society, writes John Carlin.

It is a message he will convey on Wednesday in meetings with Mr Major and John Smith, the Labour leader, and again at an evening address in Parliament which he has been invited to deliver by the foreign affairs committees of the Conservative and Labour parties.

At a critical time in South African history, with political violence threatening to derail talks working towards a peaceful political settlement, the African National Congress president told the Independent that he looked to Britain to play an active role in the political battle to establish democracy and the economic effort to consolidate it.

Asked whether he ever despaired of his country's future when faced with the need for a future ANC-led government to redress the economic injustices of apartheid and provide the 6 million unemployed - increasing at half a million a year - with a decent living, he replied: 'It is here that we expect countries like Britain to assist with resources.

'Even at this stage it is quite clear that the organisation which is most committed to democratic values is the African National Congress. Britain is the home of parliamentary democracy. We would expect it to go out of its way to give us the resources to address these problems, and to assist us in obtaining assistance from the other industrialised countries.'

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