U.S. Offers Compromise Plan on Namibia

Times Staff Writer

The United States in a new diplomatic initiative has put forward a compromise proposal for the independence of the South African-administered territory of Namibia and the withdrawal of Cuban troops from neighboring Angola, Assistant Secretary of State Chester A. Crocker said here Friday.

Crocker said the United States hopes to break a negotiating stalemate between Angola and South Africa, particularly on the Cuban issue, by reducing the substantial differences between their own proposals and adding American ideas on how the political and security needs of both countries can be met.

"We are at the point where we have a pretty clear idea of the major concerns (of Angola and South Africa)," Crocker said after conferring with officials of the two countries in separate talks this week. "We decided the time was right to put some additional ideas forward to accelerate the (negotiating) process."

'A Piece of Paper'

But Crocker declined to disclose details of the U.S. proposal, which he described as "a piece of paper on the table to get the parties talking about the same ideas rather than having different proposals flying back and forth."

Angola has proposed that 20,000 of the 30,000 Cuban troops now stationed there be withdrawn over a three-year period to begin as Namibia (South-West Africa) moves toward independence. Ten thousand troops would remain to guard the Angolan capital, Luanda, and the oil-rich coastal enclave of Cabinda from anti-government forces.

South Africa, however, has demanded that all Cuban forces be pulled out within three months of an agreement, which is the same deadline for the withdrawal of its own troops from Namibia under a United Nations plan for the territory's independence.

"There is a very substantial gap on matters of timing and sequence," Crocker said, indicating that there has been little progress since the proposals were first made almost six months ago. "There will have to be considerable flexibility on both sides to get a compromise."

The United States apparently has suggested other ways to meet the security needs of both countries, and a senior American official said Washington is trying to force the pace of the drawn-out negotiations and bring them to a conclusion with this initiative.

The major elements of a settlement, Crocker said, would have to be implementation of the U.N. plan for Namibian independence, a commitment and timetable on Cuban withdrawal from Angola and a formula safeguarding the territorial integrity of both Namibia and Angola--taken as a package.

He acknowledged, however, that Angola and South Africa still have not agreed on the final withdrawal of South African troops from Angolan territory, a process that was to have been completed a year ago under an earlier agreement between them but which has been repeatedly delayed. The remaining issue there, he indicated, is what will be done about guerrillas infiltrating into Namibia from Angola.

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