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Angolan Official Sees No Civil War, Rejects Reconciliation Talks

August 11, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Angola’s ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday rejected the idea of national reconcilation talks with anti-Marxist rebels but said the guerrillas will be given jobs and houses if they lay down their arms.

Ambassador Manuel Pacavira told reporters that his government did not consider the U.S.-backed rebels in the south of Angola a legitimate force.

″In Angola there is no opposition, there is no civil war,″ Pacavira said. ″What exists in Angola is a military confrontation with South Africa and its paramilitary forces ... UNITA.″

The rebels, headed by Jonas Savimbi, calls themselves UNITA for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola.

Earlier this week, Chester Crocker, the assistant secretary of State for African affairs, said an unresolved civil war in Angola ″could hamper and postpone″ efforts to reach a troop withdrawal agreement.

Crocker mediated an agreement between Angola, South Africa and Cuba under which Pretoria began withdrawing its troops from Angola on Wednesday. The parties will next try to reach agreement on the withdrawal of 50,000 Cuban soldiers from Angola.

Negotiators, however, have not tried to resolve Angola’s civil war. The United States has supported the concept of national reconcilation talks between the Luanda government and UNITA, which controls large areas of land.

But Pacavira said his government has proposed a program of ″national harmonization″ if UNITA fighters surrender. Individual guerrillas would be integrated into society, he said.

The offer does not extend to Savimbi, who has good relations with the Reagan administration. ″I cannot comment on what will happen to him,″ Pacavira said.

He called Savimbi a ″terrorist″ and an opportunist who ″today is with God and tomorrow is with the devil.″

The ambassador also said the United States should stop its support for Savimbi, though such as act would not necessarily mean the Angolan government would stop accepting military aid from the Soviet Union.

″U.S. assistance to UNITA cannot be conditioned in any form to the Soviet assistance to Angola,″ he said

On a related issue, Pacavira denied that the Soviet Union has pressured Angola into signing a cease-fire.

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