President Pieter W. Botha made two significant statements last night at a congress of the ruling National Party in Port Elizabeth. Botha said he is now prepared to open the President's Council, a body that advises the president on legislation, to blacks. The council has been made up only of whites, Indians, and people of mixed race (Coloreds). The inclusion of blacks in the council could have enormous implications for change in South Africa.
Both said the South African government is committed to the principle of ``universal franchise'' for all races. This is the first time a government spokesman has used this phrase. But President Botha hastened to add that this voting right would have to be exercised through separate structures and according perhaps to geographic boundaries. This seems to exclude introduction of a system of one-man, one-vote in a unitary state, which many blacks are demanding.
One interesting point about Botha's speech was that though his white audience remained lukewarm when he reviewed his earlier changes which brought Coloreds and Indians into Parliament.
But there was enthusiastic applause when he said blacks might be admitted to the President's Council.
He repeated that one citizenship would apply to all South Africans regardless of race. But this does not mean that all races will have identifical voting rights.
He repeated the National Party belief that it would be possible to have a viable political system in which no one racial group would dominate another, and he repeated his willingness to negotiate with all groups and all races that foreswear violence.
He admitted that ``reform is still far from complete,'' and added that he was encouraged by the reformist spirit of the National Party congresses.
Four Soviet officials kidnapped in west Beirut
Four Soviet embassy officials were kidnapped by gunmen in Muslim-controlled West Beirut yesterday, police sources said. ``Voice of Lebanon'' radio said they were seized in two incidents. Second secretary Valeri Korneev and attach'e Oleg Spirine were taken together, and another diplomat, Arkady Katakov, and the embassy's resident doctor were abducted in another incident. No group had claimed responsibility at time of writing.
Reagan plans to meet 7 allies before Gorbachev summit
President Reagan will hold a meeting of the seven leading Western nations in New York Oct. 24 as a prelude to his talks with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in November, the Bonn government said yesterday. A spokesman said Chancellor Helmut Kohl had received a letter from Mr. Reagan yesterday outlining his plans for the New York meeting and inviting him to attend.
Reagan denies that he'll fire Heckler but hints of job shift
President Reagan said yesterday he was not going to fire Margaret Heckler as secretary of health and human services, but he hinted he may ask her to change jobs. Mr. Reagan declared himself satisfied with her performance and denied reporters' allegations that he was going to fire Mrs. Heckler, whose management ability and loyalty to conservative ideals have been questioned by top administration officials. Heckler met with the President yesterday at her own request. No details were immediately available.
Police in Frankfurt prepare for new left-wing protests
Police are steeling themselves for new left-wing demonstrations today after the death of an anti-Nazi protester sparked a weekend of rioting that spread to 10 other West German cities. About 270 people were taken into custody and damage was estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The clashes turned Frankfurt's downtown into a battle zone.
The violence was kindled by a meeting in Frankfurt of the National Democratic Party, a neo-fascist group. An anti-Nazi demonstrator, G"unter Sare, was hit and killed by a police vehicle carrying a water cannon in Frankfurt Saturday night.
Celebrities raise $5.3 million for Mexican earthquake relief
Performing artists including Ricardo Montalban and Vikki Carr joined by satellite Sunday night with celebrities from Latin America in a 12-hour telethon and raised nearly $5.3 million from the US alone for earthquake-devastated Mexico. Segments of the program were telecast to Puerto Rico, Chile, Peru, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. Total donations from these countries were not immediately available.
Dollar hits four-year low in Japan; more effort seen
The US dollar fell to its lowest level against the Japanese yen in nearly four years yesterday and Japan signaled it was ready to drive it down still further. The dollar staged a partial recovery to 216 at the close of the Tokyo foreign-exchange market after sliding to a low of 215 during thin and anxious trading.
Party leaders, left wing clash at British Labour conference
The annual conference of Britain's main opposition Labour Party opened with clashes between leaders and the party's left wing. One dispute centered on a bid by Labour leader Neil Kinnock to establish his authority over left-wingers whose activities he believes are damaging the party's electoral prospects. Mr. Kinnock was also faced an early trial of strength yesterday when delegates debated a motion to establish special sections within the Labour Party for blacks and Asians, which he firmly opposes.
New Caledonia separatist scores electoral victory
Kanak separatist leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou, savoring an electoral victory, called on supporters in New Caledonia yesterday to cut short celebrations and concentrate on building up regional power in the French Pacific territory. Mr. Tjibaou's Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front won control of three out of four newly created regional councils, although his party polled little more than one-third of the total vote.
Teacher strike roundup: some settle, some don't
Teachers in two suburban Chicago schools went on strike yesterday after talks failed to produce a contract, while in western Pennsylvania a few nonunion substitutes filled in for striking teachers. In teacher strikes elsewhere, schoolchildren in Seattle were told to report today after teachers approved a settlement to end a 31/2-week walkout over working conditions. Students and teachers were to have returned to classrooms yesterday in a New Jersey district where instructors struck for nine days.
A total of 62,000 students were affected by strikes in 12 school districts in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio.
Americans setting up homes faster than population rate
Americans are setting up households at a brisker pace than the nation's overall population is growing, according to a new Census Bureau report. The population grew 4.2 percent between 1980 and 1984, while the number of households jumped 7 percent, the study said.
Also, the National Association of Realtors issued an index measuring the ability of the typical family to afford a home, saying ownership ability rose to the highest level in more than six years last month.
Power crews out to reconnect almost a million in Northeast
About 900,000 utility customers were still without electricity yesterday in the Northeast, where officials said it could take days to restore power and count the cost of Hurricane Gloria, blamed for at least 16 deaths and $47 million in damage.