James Baker: 'I'm Certain' Reagan Regretted Vetoing Anti-Apartheid Act

Sunday, 08 Dec 2013 01:53 PM

By Greg Richter

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President Ronald Reagan's veto of the Anti-Apartheid Act in 1986 was likely something he later regretted, his former chief of staff James Baker said Sunday on "Face the Nation."

Congress overrode the veto, and sanctions were placed on South Africa for its policy of racial segregation. Reagan had imposed his own set of sanctions against the government, but members of Congress felt they were not strong enough and weren't having an effect.

In 1990, as President George H.W. Bush's secretary of State, Baker met with Nelson Mandela three weeks after his release from a 27-year prison sentence for his actions against the white minority government.

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"I was really amazed at the soft-spokenness of this man, of the conviction of this man, at the dignity of this man," Baker said. "I have always felt that this was an extraordinarily beautiful human being who became, of course, an icon of freedom, of human rights and of reconciliation. How many people forgive their captors when they've been kept in prison for 27 years?"

Mandela went on to become South Africa's first democratically elected black president. He died Thursday at age 95.



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