THE WORLD FROM... Pretoria No Longer a Pariah, South Africa Is Renewing Diplomatic Ties with Many Nations, Including African States

Article excerpt

THE leaves are beginning to fall rapidly in this tree-lined capital city as winter approaches, but at the bustling Department of Foreign Affairs in the imposing Union Buildings, spring is only just beginning.

"There is a definite opening up and a new acceptance of South Africa internationally," says Coen Bezuidenhout, a foreign ministry official who recently returned from four years at the South African mission in Washington.

In a dramatic reversal of South Africa's pariah status for the past four decades, Foreign Affairs Minister Roelof (Pik) Botha told Parliament last week that South Africa would establish diplomatic relations with 15 new countries by the end of this year. Planning of the new missions, mainly in Africa and Eastern Europe, is already far advanced and some - like Hungary - have already opened.

The new outward thrust, made possible by the political changes initiated by President Frederik de Klerk, is largely trade driven, but it holds many political and diplomatic rewards.

Missions in the process of being established include the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria; Ivory Coast and Togo in West Africa; and Morocco, Madagascar, and the thriving Indian Ocean island-state of Mauritius.

"The opening of these new missions is proof that the whole situation is normalizing under De Klerk," says Mr. Bezuidenhout, who has recently been appointed media officer of a hastily created VIP section of the foreign ministry to handle an anticipated spate of foreign visitors in the next six months.

The biggest breakthrough for Pretoria is the establishment of diplomatic ties with Moscow. Other African states that could soon agree to exchange diplomats include Zambia, Angola, Nigeria, Kenya, and Egypt. Pretoria already has trade missions in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, diplomatic relations with Malawi, Swaziland, and Lesotho, and representative status in Namibia and Botswana. …