Mozambique’s Marxist President Samora M. Machel, after a meeting with President Reagan, said today that his country welcomes U.S. government and private sector involvement in assisting his country’s social and economic development.
With Reagan standing at his side, Machel said he believes their two-hour meeting “established a solid basis for long-term cooperation in all fields” between the two countries.
Reagan praised Mozambique’s moves toward accommodation with South Africa after years of hostility and said Machel’s more receptive attitude toward foreign investment will help the country advance economically.
Machel was once known for his outspoken anti-Americanism, and U.S. officials believe his transformation toward more nonaligned policies represents a major setback for the Soviet Union in southern Africa.
U.S. officials who briefed reporters on Machel’s visit said the discussions were to focus on Mozambique’s economic problems and the overall situation in southern Africa.
There are several thousand Soviet Bloc technical and military advisers in Mozambique but the officials said Machel has been turning increasingly toward the West because the Soviets have provided little concrete assistance.
Last year, Mozambique joined the Western-dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank. In addition, Mozambican support for Soviet positions in the United Nations no longer is automatic. Machel also has been resisting Soviet proposals to establish military bases in Mozambique.
At his news conference Tuesday night, Reagan said Machel has been having “second thoughts” about his ties to Moscow.
“We just think it’s worthwhile to show him another side of the coin,” Reagan said.
But some conservatives believe Machel’s changed tone is cosmetic.
The Conservative Caucus, in a full-page advertisement in Tuesday’s editions of the Washington Times, cited a number of quotes by Machel over the last year to suggest that his radicalism remains intact.
Machel, 51, was quoted as praising Mozambique’s “indestructible” ties with the Soviet Union and the Palestine Liberation Organization for its “relentless struggle against Zionism and imperialism. . . . “
But U.S. officials said Machel’s actions suggest a loosening of ties with Moscow, asserting that a March, 1984, agreement he reached with South Africa angered the Soviets. The main feature of that agreement was a mutual pledge of noninterference.
The pact was aimed at halting Mozambican support to anti-apartheid guerrillas and South Africa aid to rebels seeking to overthrow Machel.