The United States has replied in a "positive manner" to an appeal by Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos for direct talks between the two governments, the State Department said yesterday.
The announcement by spokesman Dean Fischer said Washington's response to a Dec. 10 public appeal by dos Santos was conveyed through diplomatic channels. Fischer would not elaborate.
Successive U.S. administrations have refused to establish diplomatic relations with Angola because of the continuing presence of 10,000 to 20,000 Cuban troops who tipped the balance in favor of the ruling faction in the Angolan civil war. However, senior State Department officials in both the Carter and Reagan administrations have had talks in New York and Luanda with the Angolan government.
Angola is considered an important factor in the international effort, of which the United States is a part, to bring independence to Namibia, the South Africa-ruled territory on Angola's southern border.
U.S. officials have made clear that there is a close connection between the departure of South African forces from Namibia and the departure of Cuban troops from Angola. Any arrangements for parallel action on this score are likely to involve more extensive U.S.-Angolan discussions than have been held thus far.
The State Department announcement also said the administration continues to favor repeal of the Clark amendment prohibiting U.S. overt or covert aid to political factions in Angola. An administration effort to win repeal of this provision was defeated during the recent consideration of foreign aid legislation in Congress.
The statement described the administration stand as "a matter of principle," and said there are no plans to provide aid to Angolan internal forces.