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1991 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in London

Below is the text of Mr Major's doorstep interview held in London on Friday 1st February 1991.


QUESTION:

Could we ask you about the Gulf and South Africa, Sir? How welcoming do you think the events are in South Africa?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is very encouraging indeed. The steps that have been announced today are a huge step towards not just the dismantling but the absolute ending of apartheid. It has to be carried into legislation, of course, but I think everyone all around the world will want to welcome what has happened today - it is a gigantic step forward.

QUESTION:

Do you think that other countries, then, should move towards the ending of sanctions?

PRIME MINISTER:

I hope they will look at that - I think they should now. I hope that will be the case in due course both in the United States and throughout the Commonwealth. A tremendous move forward has been made. Everybody wants to encourage the new South Africa and I hope in due time bring them back into the African community of nations and the world community of nations. The chance of doing that is clearly there now.

QUESTION:

Britain has made a particular stand on the question of South Africa and on the need to encourage South Africa to get developments. Do you think that Britain's stand is paying off?

PRIME MINISTER:

Apartheid is odious and apartheid is now under sentence of death - that is very good news. What, therefore, do we now want to see? Clearly, we will want to see investment in South Africa so that the new South Africa is a prosperous place that can cope with the internal problems that it has. Everyone, I think, will wish to see that and I hope governments around the world will reflect that view.

QUESTION:

Do you feel that there is more Britain should be doing?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will certainly be discussing, when we have had a chance to examine this statement in more detail - we have only seen it thus far in our mind we need to be clear when it is going to be carried into legislation. But I think it is very likely that we will wish to discuss that with our colleagues in Europe and of course with our colleagues in the Commonwealth.

QUESTION:

Finally, on the Gulf, is there anything you can say about the renewed threats to British prisoners of war?

PRIME MINISTER:

They are deplorable, of course, but I think they illustrate something absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt: Saddam Hussein started this war and Saddam Hussein is losing this war. That is becoming more apparent day after day after day in every aspect of the conflict. I think what he is now saying is a reflection of the fact that he knows he is losing the war.

QUESTION:

Is there anything more that you can do next week when you meet the President of the International Red Cross to try to put the case of Britain with regard to the treatment of the prisoners of war?

PRIME MINISTER:

The Red Cross are being extremely helpful. The Red Cross are very well aware of the need to ensure that the Iraqis keep to the Geneva Convention and we continually make that point with them. I do not want to prejudge what I can determine with the President of the Red Cross. I am looking forward to that meeting; I am grateful for the help they are giving us; they will, I know, continue to press for the welfare of all servicemen, both British and others, who may at present be prisoners of the Iraqis but the Iraqis have responsibilities under the Geneva Convention; they have those responsibilities and we will expect them to meet them.