Accessibility links

Former South African Leaders Hopeful About Middle East Peace - 2002-04-11

Two former South African presidents say they are confident that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be found,but not without sacrifice.

Frederick de Klerk, the last white president of South Africa, and Nelson Mandela, the first black president of the country, say that Israel and the Palestinians must compromise to achieve peace.

Mr. Mandela says Israel must make an unambiguous declaration to withdraw completely from all Palestinian territories.

Mr. Mandela also says Arab leaders must make a clear and unequivocal declaration that they recognize the state of Israel within secure boundaries.

Mr. de Klerk says it is important that the two sides return to the negotiating table and resume talks at the point where they were closest to reaching an agreement.

Mr. de Klerk says both sides have made major mistakes -- Yasser Arafat in not committing himself fully to peace when Ehud Barak was prime minister. Mr. De Klerk also says the present Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is not "without blame."

Mr. Mandela and Mr. De Klerk, jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. They were interviewed Wednesday by a private South African television station, e-TV.