UNITED NATIONS -- African National Congress President Nelson Mandela is arguing against an early lifting of economic and diplomatic sanctions on South Africa's all-white government as he kicks off a one-week U.S. tour.
Mandela would not disclose what he intended to say today to the U.N. General Assembly, which is holding its annual debate on apartheid. But before leaving South Africa, he said he was planning to appeal for U.N. help in repatriating 17,000 ANC members and thousands of other political exiles stuck abroad. The ANC has been unable to pay promised $790 stipends to many of the 4,000 ANC exiles who have already returned home.
Yesterday's visit to New York by Mandela, 73, sharply contrasts with a wildly exuberant victory tour in June 1990, just a few months after he had been released from 27 years in a South African prison for fighting to abolish white-only rule. Since his release, Mandela has carved out a role as one of South Africa's major leaders.
On this trip, there will be no ticker tape parades and, with the exception of an address to the General Assembly and a speech at the University of Pittsburgh, only quiet meetings with foundation and business leaders and private sessions with President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker.
In a short press briefing at the U.N. Plaza hotel, the South African leader cited "protocol and courtesy" in declining to discuss what he would say to Bush, who wants to lift sanctions before assumption of power by a multiracial, interim government that would rule until a permanent government takes over under a new, non-racial South African constitution.
He also praised New York Mayor David Dinkins, whom he called "Dave," for helping to fight apartheid in his recent trip to South Africa.
Mandela was effusive in his praise for Dinkins, whose recent trip to South Africa, he said, "in many respects turned our country upside down" and "has been a very important contribution to the struggle against racial oppression in our country."
The mayor complained when he returned that news media had not given enough attention to the substance of his trip.
Introducing Mandela yesterday, Dinkins promised, "New York City will not repeal sanctions until the democratic movement in South Africa tells us it is time to do so."
Mandela pointedly spoke of encouraging business investment in a "post-apartheid" South Africa. He said preparations for a South Africa development bank, which was proposed by Rockefeller Foundation chief Peter Goldmark, were "well-advanced."