WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. official today called his recent talks with Angola a "waste of time" and said there is no point in further meetings unless the Marxist regime is prepared to offer new proposals on sending Cuban troops home.
"We did indicate in a press statement that the talks were conducted in a 'businesslike atmosphere'--that is to say the two sides did not throw water pitchers at each other or ashtrays or something," said Chester Crocker, assistant secretary of state for African affairs. "But as a practical matter, no progress was made."
Crocker held two days of talks with the Angolan leadership in Luanda last week, the first such talks in more than a year.
He said he was "disturbed" by Angolan statements that the talks were positive. "All the advance indications we had received that they were now ready to do serious business proved to be hollow and proved to be false," he said.
Although the United States and Angola have no diplomatic relations and Washington is supporting anti-government guerrillas there, Crocker has held a series of meetings with the Angolans in an attempt to negotiate a southern Africa peace settlement.
He has been attempting to arrange a settlement based on a U.N. resolution calling for withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola and independence for neighboring Namibia from South Africa.
Crocker, speaking on the U.S. Information Agency's "Worldnet" television broadcast to Europe, said the Angolans had indicated in advance of his latest meetings that they were prepared to put "fresh ideas on the table."
'Nothing New to Say'
But, he said, they had "nothing new to say--in effect, no fresh ideas."
"It was a waste of time," Crocker said.
"From our standpoint, talks for the sake of talks is not really a very positive development. So we will wait until they have communicated to us that they have something genuine and substantive to say. Until they do, there's not any purpose in continuing meetings for the sake of meetings.
"We're not closing the door and we're prepared to resume direct contact when and if the Angolan leadership is sufficiently united and can take the necessary risks for peace that must be taken."
Crocker said the meetings showed that the Angolan leadership is "at odds with itself" and unable to agree on the next step in the negotiations, is under "tremendous negative pressures" from "their principal patrons," the Soviet Union and Cuba, and is "still preoccupied with military solutions."
He noted that a Soviet official told him in London two weeks before the talks that the meetings "would not succeed and in effect be stalemated."
Crocker said Luanda apparently believes it can crush the U.S.-supported Union for the Total Independence of Angola guerrillas "in just one more dry season." An Angolan military buildup indicates, he said, that "fighting might be at a fairly hot level at least through the early fall."