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Bush Assures Angola Rebels Military Aid Will Continue

The Washington Post

President-elect Bush, in an early foreign policy commitment, has written a letter to Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi assuring him of continued U.S. military and diplomatic backing until the Angolan government reaches a political settlement with him.

The letter, dated Jan. 6, also commits the new Bush Administration to press African and other governments to work for agreement between Savimbi’s National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the Angolan government.

“I also want to assure you that American diplomacy will continue to encourage African and other interested governments to provide maximum support to a process of negotiation leading to national reconciliation in your country,” Bush said.

“Until that objective is achieved, my Administration will continue all appropriate and effective assistance to UNITA.”

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A Bush aide made it clear that “all appropriate and effective assistance” means a continuation of military help for Savimbi, which has been running about $15 million annually since 1986.

Stephen Hart, a Bush press spokesman, credited U.S. aid to Savimbi for helping to bring about accords signed Dec. 22 by South Africa, Angola and Cuba that provide for a phased withdrawal of all Cuban troops from Angola and independence in Namibia.

The Bush letter appears to commit the new Administration to a continuity of policy toward one of the Third World’s major conflicts and to establish as a condition for its end an internal political settlement in addition to the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola.

The letter was made available just as the first Cuban troops left Angola and Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos urged UNITA rebels to stop fighting.

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