CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, JUNE 11 -- As a new and somewhat tightened state of national emergency went into effect tonight, the government of President Pieter W. Botha signaled a relaxation in its approach toward negotiating power sharing with South Africa's 23 million-strong black majority.

In an apparent effort to persuade credible black leaders to come forward to discuss constitutional reforms, the government said through a newly appointed senior negotiator that it is willing to talk to black leaders who currently are regarded as "radicals," providing they are not ideologically committed to a strategy of violence.

Stoffel van der Merwe, who last week was named by Botha as deputy minister of constitutional development in addition to his role as deputy minister for information, said, "Not all those people {'radicals'} are ideologically committed to violence. People who use violence as a strategy are not necessarily excluded, because I think they can be persuaded."

Van der Merwe's remarks in an interview here the day after Botha announced he was extending South Africa's state of emergency for a second year appeared to represent a significant departure in longstanding government policy -- or at least emphasis. Previously, the offer to negotiate had focused primarily on government-appointed black township leaders, who are regarded in their community as collaborators, and on leaders of the ostensibly independent tribal "homelands" created by Pretoria as part of a racial separation scheme.

Van der Merwe said that when the government approaches blacks for "talks about talks" in the near future, it should not limit the field to moderate appointed officials in black townships.

"The representatives will have to convince a suitable number of their people on the ground. There is nothing to be reached by drawing a lot of puppets into it, because they wouldn't be able to deliver the goods at the end of the day," said van der Merwe, who has been assigned by Botha to make contact with credible black leaders and try to convince them to begin talks with the minority white government.

Van der Merwe indicated that even members of the outlawed African National Congress could be included in the negotiations, provided they are not committed to a strategy of violent overthrow of the government.

The views expressed by van der Merwe, who has Cabinet rank and is regarded as one of the more progressive constitutional thinkers in the government, contrasted sharply with Botha's speech to Parliament last night, in which the president said of the ANC, "We will not talk to these people. We will fight them, for the simple reason that they are part and parcel of the terrorist curse besetting the world of today."

Asked if his views went beyond Botha's, van der Merwe replied, "Part of my job is to do some exploration. If one explores, you have to move ahead in some ways. You have to advance ahead of the main body. That doesn't mean that the main body will go along."

However, van der Merwe noted that all of his previous positions on speeding up reform and the power-sharing process had had the president's general imprimatur.

While a softer line on power sharing could make it easier for black leaders to come forward, there has been no indication so far that the new government stance will attract such leaders as Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, the moderate Zulu chief minister, who insists on the release of political prisoners and an end to the emergency before he will negotiate.

Van der Merwe said that by necessity, his initial talks with black leaders will be at an "invisible level," but he said he planned to visit black communities.

Political analysts have suggested that van der Merwe's new appointment, coupled with Botha's announcement last month that he would take a more direct role in negotiating with blacks, hints at a reduction in the dominance of Constitutional Planning Minister Chris Heunis in the reform process. Heunis, once regarded as a likely successor to Botha, was reelected to Parliament by a margin of only 39 votes in the May 6 whites-only election.

Van der Merwe's comments came as Botha published regulations of the new state of emergency, which tighten some aspects of the emergency declared last June 12 that expires at midnight tonight.

{The United States on Thursday criticized the renewal of the state of emergency, which State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said would "undermine opportunities for dialogue," Reuter reported from Washington.}

The new regulations include changes to the definitions of "security action" and "unrest" that appear to invalidate a ruling by a provincial supreme court in Natal in April overthrowing some press restrictions. Media lawyers said the closing of the loopholes appears to make it illegal once again to report on security force actions or unrest, or to be present at scenes of political disturbances.