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Angola Assures U.N. About Peace

August 4, 1998

LUANDA, Angola (AP) _ The Angolan president assured a senior U.N. envoy on Monday that his government was committed to peace despite signs that the country is sliding back into civil war.

``The president and the government reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the 1994 peace accord,″ U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters after meeting with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in the Angolan capital.

Brahimi will meet on Tuesday with Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the former UNITA rebel movement and the other main figure in the simmering conflict.

Brahimi is on an emergency mission prompted by a spate of recent violence, including the massacre of 100 civilians in a remote northern village. Both sides are reportedly building up their militaries.

A U.N.-brokered accord signed in 1994 sealed a tenuous end to a two-decade-long war between the government and UNITA rebels that was fueled by Cold War geopolitics.

But successive deadlines for full implementation of the agreement have passed unheeded, and in recent weeks the entire peace process has appeared in danger of collapse.

Brahimi was due to travel Tuesday morning by air to meet Savimbi at his highland stronghold, 300 miles north of the capital of this former Portuguese colony.

UNITA’s reluctance to relinquish its rural strongholds in compliance with the 1994 accord has triggered harsh U.N. sanctions. Savimbi has refused to move his base to the capital for personal security reasons.

The government has also accused UNITA of not fully demobilizing its 70,000-strong guerrilla army and maintaining troops hidden in the bush.

But in recent weeks the government and UNITA have been accused of preparing for another war with forced recruitment drives in this immense southwest African country.

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