51. Telegram From the Embassy in Cameroon to the Department of State1

1406. No distribution outside Department. Subject: US Diplomatic Policy in South Africa. Ref: State 085175, 085174.2 From Assistant Secretary Newsom.

While perhaps not having all details, I am assuming from reftels that Chairman Diggs has raised further matter our general policy toward attendance segregated gatherings in South Africa following our response on Malan Opera House opening.
Obviously we cannot keep doors open for meaningful contacts with all elements in South Africa if we are to avoid all segregated gatherings or facilities. We can, however, seek draw distinction between those events such as Malan Opera House opening which become particularly identified with apartheid and those events which are normal and necessary part of diplomatic courtesy. I believe Ambassador Hurd in his option has suggested appropriate approach re anniversary; I suggest we agree.3
Assuming reply Chairman Diggs required, I suggest we make brief response, emphasizing that this administration, as have all previous administrations believes U.S. can most effectively exercise influence and keep doors open for contacts between citizens both countries by maintenance diplomatic relations. Since nearly all events and facil [Page 135] ities in country segregated to some extent, policy of non-attendance such events would restrict our contacts with colored, Indian and black groups as well as white. U.S. representatives, however, are under instructions to use appropriate discretion in cases of events which by their special character are particularly identified with the apartheid system in order leave no doubt regarding our continued attitude of abhorrence toward such a system.
Carter may wish supplement letter by oral briefing of Chairman pointing out very limited U.S. attendance South African anniversary events and stressing significance our diplomatic presence in facilitating contacts all elements population.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 14 S AFR. Confidential; Priority; Limdis.
  2. In telegram 85174 to Yaounde, May 15, the Department requested Newsom’s comments on telegram 486 from Cape Town; see footnote 3 below. Telegram 85175 was a repeat of telegram 486 from Cape Town. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 14 S AFR)
  3. In telegram 486 from Cape Town, May 14, Hurd suggested one way to keep U.S. association with South African anniversary events low key was to attend only the banquet and ceremonial speech. He argued that a total boycott would “offend and alienate government we are trying to influence.” (Ibid.)