Archive (Reagan Library)

South Africa: State Department memorandum to McFarlane (following up US measures) [declassified 1999]

Document type: Declassified documents
Venue: State Department
Source: Reagan Library (NSC African Affairs Directorate Box 91026)
Editorial comments:
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 536
Themes: Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (Africa), Commonwealth (South Africa), British policy towards South Africa

September 6, 1985


Subject: Presidential Action on South Africa

The Department suggests the following plan of action to implement the decisions taken by the President on September 5:


  • The President determines which of the proposed measures included in the attached draft Executive Order (Tab A) he wishes to include in the actual order:

  • The White House completes action on the Executive Order;


  • Secretary Shultz and National Security Advisor McFarlane call key Congressional leaders (Tab B) before the President's speech to brief them. These leaders should be asked to accept the President's decision, set aside action on the present legislation, and resist further legislative initiatives to impose sanctions. The calls should be made close enough to the President's statement to preclude leaks.

  • The Ambassadors of Britain, Germany and Luxemburg (as head of the European Community) are briefed by Assistant Secretary Crocker. The Ambassadors will be asked to communicate urgently with their governments, explain the President's decisions, and convey our hope that the UK, FRG and other European governments support the approach we have taken. In refusing to accept sanctions which further disrupt South Africa's economy, our position is consistent with the conclusions of the EC Foreign Ministers who have just visited South Africa.

  • The President announces his decision to implement the Executive Order, to veto the proposed legislation, and to return Ambassador Nickel to South Africa with a message to President Botha (Tab C) in his Saturday radio address (Tab D).

  • [end p1]
  • NSC Advisor McFarlane, Assistant Secretary Crocker together and a representative of the Legal Advisor's Office and an NSC representative will meet media representatives after the President's speech to brief the press on the substance and implications of the President's actions.

  • Messages will be sent to African Chiefs of State and other governments explaining the President's decision and our intention to pursue vigorously a policy at influencing the situation in South Africa and achieving peace in the region.


  • Amb. Nickel returns to South Africa.

  • South African Working Group under Amb. David Miller moves into high gear in public presentation of President's decision and U.S. southern Africa policy. The IPC will meet to decide strategy early during the week of September 9. An outline of the approach we intend to take is the subject of a separate memorandum; it includes views on how to shape the debate, mobilize a broader base of opinion, deal with the media, and put spokesmen of our policy in key opinion centers.

  • We will prepare a strategy for energizing our diplomacy toward South and southern Africa. This will include our plans to engage Machel's cooperation during his visit and recommence negotiations with the Angolans. It will also include the possibility of high level missions in the near future to the region.

Nicholas Platt

Executive Secretary

Tab A – Draft Executive Order
Tab B – List of Suggested Congressional Contacts
Tab C – Draft Presidential Letter to President Botha
Tab D – Draft Presidential Radio Address [end p2]