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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 19, 1993

Remarks by President Clinton in Photo Op with Bishop Desmond Tutu

May 19

The Oval Office

3:37 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: It's an honor for me to welcome Bishop Tutu here. As every American knows he has been a real leader in the fight for democracy and for an end to apartheid in South Africa. Almost a decade ago he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. And I want to assure him here today that the United States remains committed to the creation of a nonracial democracy in South Africa.

I also want to discuss a decision that I know has been very important to Bishop Tutu and to other leaders for democracy and human rights in Africa. Today I am pleased to announce the United States' recognition of the government of Angola. This decision reflects the high priority that our administration places on democracy.

In 1992 after years of bitter civil war, the people of Angola held a multiparty election that the United States, the United Nations and others monitored and considered free and fair. Since taking office on January 20th, I have tried to use the possibility of United States' recognition as a leverage towards promoting an end to the civil war and hostilities and hopefully the participation of all relevant political groups in the government of Angola.

Sadly, the party that lost the election, UNITA, resumed the fighting before the electoral process could even be completed. And UNITA has now refused to sign the peace agreement currently on the table. The Angolan government, by contrast, has agreed to sign that peace agreement; has sworn in a democratically elected national assembly; and has offered participation by UNITA at all levels of government.

Today we recognize those achievements by recognizing the government of the Republic of Angola. It is my hope that UNITA will accept a negotiated settlement and that it will be part of this government. I intend to continue working closely with the government of Angola and with UNITA to achieve a lasting peace settlement and a vibrant democracy there. I hope the efforts of the United States have been helpful. I am confident that the government of Angola has more than earned the recognition that the United States extends today.

Q Mr. President, Human rights sources are -- how do you plan to approach the occupation of East Timor by Indonesia, sir? Could you elaborate on that -- how do you plan to approach the problem of the East Timor?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't want to talk about it today. We have discussed it, and we may have more to say about it later.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think just before your question Bishop Tutu was about to say something.

BISHOP TUTU: Well, I just want to say how deeply thrilled I am at the President's announcement because I have been speaking with the Assistant Secretary of State and Assistant Secretary for Africa yesterday and said, I couldn't understand how the United States could not recognize a government that was democratically elected. And they were very cagey in their responses. And I am really over the moon in a sense because I was going to raise this issue with the President in my capacity as President of the All Africa Conference of Churches in our appeal to the administration to reward democracy. And this is happening, and I am certain it will help the process in our continent where not all countries have had a good record on human rights. And I am very very thrilled. If my complexion was different you would probably see better. (Laughter.)

Q -- what message are you going to the President about South Africa -- the situation in South Africa today?

BISHOP TUTU: Well I haven't yet spoken -- I would have hoped we would do that and talk with you afterwards, because, I mean, I don't think it is fair to say, I am going to say to the President and I haven't said it yet.

Q Mr President, can we ask you if you feel you were fair in summarily dismissing some employees of this government of longstanding without a hearing, and leaving the impression perhaps that they may have committed criminal acts?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't know. I'll have to refer to the Chief of Staff about that.

Q We're speaking about the Travel Office, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: I know. All I know about it is that I was told that the people who were in charge of administering in the White House found serious problems there and thought there was no alternative. I'll have to refer to them for any other questions. That is literally all I know about it. I know nothing else about it.

END 3:42 P.M. EDT