U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young and Angolan President Agostinho Neto met for more than an hour yesterday in the first high-level contact between the two countries, which have no diplomatic ties.
Young, the newly named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and President Carter's African troubleshooter, said he had brought no message to Neto from Washington.Nor, he said, did he have specific instructions to meet with the Angolan leader, whose faction the United States bitterly opposed in that country's civil war.
Brig. Joseph Gabra, Nigeria's foreign minister, had suggested yesterday that Young meet Neto, one of several black African leaders attending a show of horsemen in Kaduna.
"If I had not met Neto, it would have been insulting to Nigeria to snub one of their friends," Young said later. Neto invited him to make a formal visit to Luanda, the Angolan capital, young reported.
It has been expected that Young and Neto might meet last week in Zanzibar, Tanzania, where several black African presidents were expected for an anniversary celebration. But Neto did not attend.
[State Department sources said the meeting between Young and Neto was "no surprise" since Young had intended to associate with as many leaders as possible on his trip. They said the attached no special significance to the meeting.]
The conversation in Neto's hotel room apparently did little to solve the problem of U.S. refusal to recognize Neto's government, whose close ties to the Soviet Union and Cuba incurred the wrath of the Ford administration and especially former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.
Young said he told Neto he disagreed with Neto's position that only armed struggle would liberate Rhodesia. Young said the African nationalists' "negotiating position was stronger than their military position." In the only allusion to the controversial role of Cuban troops in Angola. Young said, Neto told him that Angola and the Soviet Union were "friends" although there were many things they disagreed on and the United States "shouldn't tell him what to do or who his friends should be."
Besides his diplomatic ice-breaking with Angola, Young has clearly made a hit with Nigeria's military government, which snubbed Kissinger by refusing to invite him here.
Although formal talks with Lt. Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria's head of state, do not begin until Thursday, Young has already drawn wide praise here.
After Young met with Neto, Obasanjo, in a toast, assured him of Nigeria's "support in his great and important task of bridging the wide gulf between the U.S. and Africa."
Young noted that from his trips here as a congressman, "The Nigerians know I respect them and come as a friend and equal."
Nigeria, he said, "did not want Kissinger to come and play god in African politics. I told State we should not bypass Nigeria as they have the power to disrupt in advance anything we do."
The problem in the past, Young said, was that "Nigeria is arrogant and Kissinger is arrogant and there was a clash. I may bejust as arrogant but I may control it better."