The Angolan government and its UNITA foes failed to agree on a cease-fire after four days of talks that ended Saturday, but they resolved to meet again in 10 days in pursuit of peace.
A final communique said the two sides will meet again in the Ethiopian capital Feb. 10 to try to breathe life into a 1991 peace pact that was supposed to end Angola’s 16-year civil war.
“The government of Angola and UNITA express their objective to maintain and strengthen a direct political dialogue which will lead once again to the respect of the cease-fire throughout the national territory,” the statement said.
But the talks failed to end battles raging on several fronts or to fix a date for the second round of presidential elections that were halted by the conflict and that were supposed to crown a return to peace and democracy.
Rebels were reported closing in on northeastern Angola on Saturday in a bid to tighten their grip on the country’s diamond-mining region.
Government military sources said rebels appeared to be gaining ground near Saurimo. The town, 500 miles east of Luanda, the capital, is the gateway to diamond mines in northern Lunda Norte province.
The aim of the talks is to reinstate a 1991 peace deal that ended war between the formerly pro-Soviet Luanda government and its pro-Western UNITA enemies.
UNITA, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, disputed the results of landmark general elections last September, and thousands of people have been reported killed in clashes between the two armies.
The talks were held against a background of fresh fighting in Angola and a thinly veiled threat by the U.N. Security Council to remove its peace monitors if their security was threatened.
The Security Council agreed to maintain its presence in Angola, and the final communique “expressed the wish that the role (of the force) will be reinforced in the period extending until the conclusion of the peace process.”