British Commonwealth ends week-long summit

Britain and her former colonies ended their Commonwealth of Nations summit here resolving to work toward staving off violence that participants said threatens South Africa. The kings, presidents, and prime ministers of 49 countries concluded their biennial meeting Tuesday.

South Africa took up five days of the seven-day summit. But the Commonwealth dealt with other world and regional issues as well, although with less debate, if any.

Their final communiqu'e appealed to President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who meet next month in Geneva to halt the atomic arms race and start reversing it with ``significant measures of nuclear disarmament.''

The South Africa issue nearly brought a split with Britain over Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's refusal to agree to major economic sanctions against South Africa, an important trading partner for Britain.

Mrs. Thatcher argues that stiff economic sanctions would hurt South Africa's 24 million blacks more than the white-minority government. In the end, the Commonwealth leaders decided that unity was essential and compromised with Thatcher on a comprehensive package of nine milder sanctions.

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