WASHINGTON -- South African President F.W. de Klerk predicted Friday his nation will make the adequate racial advances within the next two months that would permit the lifting ofinternational sanctions.
But Nelson Mandela, head of the African National Congress, angrily reiterated that sanctions should remain in place until a transitional government has been formed.
'He has not right to set any time frame because he is just irrelevant on the question of the removal of sanctions,' Mandela told reporters after he and de Klerk held private meetings with President Clinton.
Mandela and de Klerk kept their distances at the White House. They arrived and left separately.
The White House had announced that the two would pose together with Clinton, but then said Mandela refused.
De Klerk, in departing the White House, told reporters, 'I have no doubt that we will, within the next six weeks to two months, make the further progress which is necessary to finally get the total international community, including America, to remove the last vestiges of the few remaining sanctions.'
Mandela, told of de Klerk's comments shortly later, said, 'The question of sanctions depends not on Mr. de Klerk, but on the democratic process in our country, led by the African National Congress.'
The Clinton administration had expected Mandela to use his trip to Washington this week to announce that ANC favors ending the sanctions.
Clinton had even prepared a package of incentives but was forced to hold off after Mandela said sanctions must stay in place until the transitional government was formed and a date was set for elections.
Administration expectations were raised again when a date for elections was announced last week, but Mandela would not back off from his insistence that a temporary government be formed to oversee the transition from white rule.
'It is not just the agreement on the date of elections that will influence our decision on the question of sanctions,' Mandela told reporters after meeting with an African-American group. 'There is also another important development shich should take place -- that is the installation of the transitional executive council.'
'Until that council has been installed, we will not be in a position to lift sanctions,' he said.
De Klerk said he is optimistic about negotiations toward a transitional government and expects one to be named by August.
'I'm confident that what's been identified by the international community as steps necessary for lifting of few remaining sanctions will happen,' he said after meeting with Secretary of State Warren Christopher. 'We will make the necessary breakthroughs shortly.'
He expressed mild annoyance at Mandela's failure to call for sanctions to be lifted and said the charismatic black leader, who was imprisoned for nearly two decades by the South African government, should have asked for it 'long ago.'
It was announced Friday that multi-party elections will be held next April. The Inkatha Freedom Party, a radical black-nationalist group in South Africa whose power base has diminished since negotiations began, has said it will boycott elections.
Mandela and de Klerk said, however, that the Inkatha move would not delay the invevitable transition to democracy in South Africa.
'We are anxious to have everybody on board the peace train and we will ask all parties to come along with us, but not many people were surprised by the withdrawal of Inkatha,' Mandela said. 'Throughout this negotiating process they have played the role of spoilers.
But 'we have to ask who has actually pulled out and what power does he have.'
Sweeping international sanctions were imposed against South Africa for its policy of subjugating the majority black population, known as apartheid.
The Bush administration lifted federal sanctions last year, but many local restrictions on trade remain in place.