Related topics

Israel, South Africa Sign Cooperation Pact; De Klerk Tours Holy Sites

November 11, 1991 GMT

JERUSALEM (AP) _ South Africa and Israel on Monday signed a broad agreement for economic and scientific ties, and visiting South African President F. W. de Klerk urged Israel to help him create an economic community in southern Africa.

Foreign ministers Pik Botha of South Africa and David Levy of Israel signed a memorandum of understanding to increase cooperation in science, culture, industry, agriculture, tourism, economy and other fields.

Botha said military cooperation was not mentioned ″because that belongs to the past.″

″We do not need to deal with that matter at all because in the relations between South Africa and Israel, the military plays no role whatsoever,″ Botha said on Israel radio.

As to reported Israeli-South African nuclear cooperation, Botha replied, ″It is a figment of the imagination of someone.″

In a luncheon speech, de Klerk repeated his hope to form an economic cooperation with a dozen southern Africa states ″to ensure that Africa will reach its zenith.″

″It is also important that your country and our country should look at southern Africa, should see its potential and become involved in close interaction,″ De Klerk said.

He said he hoped South Africa would return to the international community and be a ″regional power, exercising its knowledge and expertise in the favor of the region in which it has evolved.″

Israel joined other Western nations in lifting economic and cultural sanctions on South Africa in July, after South Africa abolished racial classification of citizens, the last major apartheid law.

But in a private meeting, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said he agreed with de Klerk that U.S. and European leaders should not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, a statement from Shamir’s office said.

Israel is under increasing pressure from the United States and the Soviet Union, co-sponsors of Middle East peace talks, to halt Jewish settlements in occupied territories and exchange land for peace.

On the second day of his three-day visit, de Klerk and his wife Marike toured Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem’s old walled city.

De Klerk, the first South African leader to come to Israel since 1976, also visited Parliament.