WASHINGTON — An unprecedented meeting among top officials from the United States, Angola, Cuba and South Africa will be held in London next week to discuss a settlement of the 13-year-old civil war in Angola and independence for Namibia, the State Department said Friday.
The four countries have never met formally to discuss the conflict, and the meeting, to be held Tuesday and Wednesday, was seen as a potential breakthrough in the war that has crippled Angola since it gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
The announcement by the State Department came as Assistant Secretary of State Chester A. Crocker was wrapping up a two-day meeting in London with his Soviet counterpart, Anatoly L. Adamishin, to discuss Angola along with other African issues.
State Department spokesman Charles Redman said that Crocker will head the U.S. delegation to next week's talks, while the Cuban representatives would participate in the talks as part of the Angolan delegation, as they did in two earlier sessions with U.S. officials.
Redman also said that the talks would focus partly on how to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 435, which calls for independence for Namibia, and partly on how to secure the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Angola and Namibia.
The United States wants a total withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola as part of a southern Africa settlement that would also remove South African forces from Angolan territory and bring independence to South Africa-ruled Namibia.
South Africa has about 3,000 troops in southern Angola in support of right-wing rebels fighting to unseat the Marxist government. Cuba backs Angola with an estimated 40,000 troops. The rebels receive military aid from the United States, and the Soviet Union supplies arms to Angola.
The State Department said in February that Angola and Cuba had jointly agreed for the first time that all Cuban troops should leave Angola as part of a peace settlement.
A rebel spokesman in London said that the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, had received no invitation to the talks.