WASHINGTON (Jul. 10)
The Reagan Administration “unequivocally opposes” an international conference “on the alliance between South Africa and Israel” which is scheduled to open this week in Vienna under the aegis of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid. State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said Friday the conference “will exacerbate, not help solve, the problems of the Middle East or South Africa.”
The UN Special Committee announced last May that it would hold the conference at the Vienna International Center from July 11 to July 13. The Committee said that the meeting was being organized in cooperation with the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization, the Organization of African Trade Union Unity and the World Peace Council.
When the Special Committee announced its decision to hold the conference, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Yehuda Blum, charged that the Committee’s decision was “illegal and should, therefore, be cancelled.” It was illegal, he said, because the Committee did not issue a report on the financial aspects of the conference as UN rules require and because it lacked General Assembly approval.
Blum charged that the Special Committee singled out Israel’s trade with South Africa as a pretext for convening the meeting. He pointed out that Israel’s trade with South Africa is only two-fifths of one percent of South Africa’s international trade. Blum also accused the Special Committee of bias against Israel, noting that many of the 18 members of the unit represent countries that trade with South Africa on a much larger scale than Israel.
Romberg, in his statement, also pointed out that the U.S. opposes the conference because two of its three sponsors, the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization and the World Peace Council, are Soviet front groups.