Crocker Arrives in Angola for Talks on Peace in Southern Africa
LISBON, Portugal (AP) _ U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Chester Crocker has arrived in Angola for two days of talks with government officials on peace efforts in southern Africa, the Angolan news agency ANGOP reported.
In a dispatch from the Angolan capital of Luanda monitored in Lisbon, ANGOP said Crocker’s visit began Wednesday and would include talks with Angolan Interior Minister Alexandre Rodigues ″in search of a regional settlement.″
Both Marxist Angola and neighboring South West Africa, ruled by South Africa, are facing guerrilla insurgencies. Crocker is to travel to South Africa after his talks in Luanda to meet with officials of that country’s white-led government.
Dispatches from Luanda carried by two Portguese news services, ANOP and Noticias de Portugal, said Crocker, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, arrived in Luanda after ending talks in Khartoum with Sudanese leaders on Tuesday.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said Tuesday that Crocker’s session with Rodrigues would center on the U.S. diplomat’s four-year effort to secure independence for Angola’s southern neighbor, South West Africa, also known as Namibia.
Kalb repeated the U.S. position that the withdrawal of an estimated 25,000 Cuban troops from Angola is viewed by Washington as ″an intergral element of a peaceful solution to the problems of southern Africa.″ There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials on Crocker’s activities in Luanda on Wednesday.
Western diplomats contacted in Luanda by telephone said the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos announced Crocker’s visit Tuesday on state- run television, a move regarded as a friendly gesture toward the United States, the sole major Western power without diplomatic ties to Angola.
Crocker and Rodrigues last met in Lusaka, Zambia, on Nov. 27-28, at a time when bills proposing U.S. aid to the Angolan rebel movement UNITA were being discussed in Congress and Angola’s ruling Marxist party was preparing for its second congress.
The defeat of several key pro-Soviet party members in races for slots on the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola-Party of Labor’s Central Committee and Politburo was matched in Washington by the defeat of the UNITA aid proposals, although President Reagan has since stated he favors covert aid to the rebels.
UNITA, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, lost to dos Santos’ Soviet- and Cuban-backed group in the civil war that followed Angolan independence from Portugal in 1975.
Angola has offered a phased, partial withdrawal of Cuban troops in exchange for a South African pullout from South West Africa. South Africa has rejected the offer and demanded a quick, complete pullout in exchange for its own withdrawal from Namibia.
South Africa, given administration of the former German colony by the now- defunct League of Nations after World War I, has ruled South West Africa since 1966 in defiance of U.N. alls for independence.