379. Telegram From the Embassy in South Africa to the Department of State0

140. Prime Minister Verwoerd received me cordially this morning on my first protocol visit and expressed desire establish friendly personal relations. With apologies for being extremely busy before his departure for Pretoria for Republic Day ceremonies1 he said he would endeavor arrange one or more long meetings with me soon after his return Capetown for serious discussion our respective policies.

We did however engage in substantive conversation briefly. He expressed belief we did not fully understand his government’s position and its importance to defense of African continent against Communist menace. I said President has told me he was not sending me here to point finger at his government but that latter must realize importance to us of our relations with African, Asian and Latin American states who had very strong feelings re South Africa’s racial policies. We desired maintain friendly relations with Union which we looked to as an old friend and ally but unless his government could develop some flexibility and give in its racial policy this would be very difficult. I wondered also whether his government realized intensity of feeling on South Africa’s racial policy which was developing throughout world. He mentioned that it did. While interview was most cordial throughout and he seemed genuinely desirious of maintaining friendly relations with US which he said he greatly admired, his general attitude and reaction tended confirm prevailing impression that there is little likelihood of change in SAG racial policy as long as he remains Prime Minister.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.45A/5-2561. Confidential. Repeated to Pretoria.
  2. On May 31, the Union of South Africa became the Republic of South Africa and severed its ties with the British Commonwealth.