Secret Cuban Talks With Angolan Rebels Reported
In a surprise move that could facilitate settlement of the Angolan conflict, Cuba secretly has held its first direct talks with U.S.-backed Angolan rebels in the Ivory Coast capital of Abidjan, according to Administration and other sources.
U.S. officials said the “contacts” took place last weekend between Cuba, whose troops help the Angolan government, and Jonas Savimbi’s National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).
They said they do not know whether this means that President Fidel Castro of Cuba has decided to try to bring about a national reconciliation agreement between the Angolan government and UNITA, which have fought for 13 years.
Angola has refused to talk with UNITA about a settlement that presumably would involve formation of a coalition government.
U.S. officials cited as a significant development Cuba’s decision to meet directly with UNITA officials because Castro has regarded the war as an “internal matter.” Cuba’s U.N. ambassador, Oscar Oramas, led the delegation.
U.S. officials said they hope the contacts will help to break the current deadlock in talks involving Cuba, Angola, South Africa and the United States about the timing of total withdrawal of the 50,000 Cuban troops in Angola.
The timetable is the main issue in the U.S.-mediated negotiations in Brazzaville, Congo, for a southern Africa pact that would include Cuban withdrawal from Angola and independence for Namibia, administered by South Africa.