President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola has dismissed Foreign Minister Paulo Jorge, a leading skeptic within the Angolan government of U.S. diplomatic initiatives aimed at securing a regional peace settlement in southern Africa and the removal of Cuban troops from Angola.
In a report monitored in the Portuguese capital today, the official Angolan news agency Angop said Jorge, who is perceived by some western diplomats as being more pro-Soviet than other members of the government, was removed from his post by presidential decree. Dos Santos will assume his duties until a successor is appointed.
The ousting of Jorge, a veteran hard-liner in the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, follows recent indications from Angola's Marxist government that it is ready to cooperate with U.S. diplomatic efforts to achieve a phased withdrawal of Cuban troops in conjunction with a negotiated independence settlement for neighboring Namibia and a South African withdrawal from that disputed territory.
Jorge retains his position on the powerful party Central Committee. He had come close to denouncing the American diplomatic effort in a speech this month to the United Nations General Assembly at a time when dos Santos was making more encouraging statements on this subject.
Jorge, one of Angola's most seasoned politicians, was appointed foreign minister in 1976 by the late president Agostinho Neto and continued in the post under his successor, dos Santos. Neto died in 1979.
During the past two years, however, there were indications that Jorge was being edged out of the political mainstream as moderates within the ruling party appeared to gain sway over those committed to the more heavily ideological approach to politics and stronger identification with Soviet policies practiced during Neto's time.
Jorge has not taken part in any of the negotiations among Angola, South Africa and the United States since the first round of talks on the Cape Verde Islands in December 1982.
The discussions led to the signing of an accord in Lusaka, Zambia, in February at which the Pretoria government agreed to pull its troops out of southern Angola provided that Angola did not allow nationalist guerrillas of the South-West Africa People's Organization to infiltrate Namibia from the vacated territory.
Nor was Jorge present at the talks last week in the Angolan capital of Luanda between Angolan officials and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frank Wisner. The U.S.-Angolan negotiations, expected to continue shortly, focus on four main issues: Cuban troops, Namibian independence, South African occupation of Angolan territory and South African support for the Angolan rebel movement UNITA.
In Washington, the State Department said that Wisner had held "constructive" talks with senior Angolan officials before returning to Washington last Thursday, United Press International reported.
Spokesman John Hughes said Wisner held discussions with senior Angolan officials, which "focused on Angolan proposals for a regional settlement based on U.N. Security Council Resolution 435." Later the department said Wisner met an Angolan negotiating team headed by the interior minister, Lt. Col. Kito Rodrigues, and including the chief of staff of the armed forces, Lt. Col. Antonio Franca Ndula, and the deputy foreign minister, Venancio da Silva Moura.
Diplomatic sources in Lisbon said that Interior Minister Rodrigues and Deputy Foreign Minister Moura were the most likely candidates to succeed Jorge.
The sources added that Jorge's resistance to a Namibian independence settlement along the lines of U.S. proposals was hampering Angolan government efforts to show more flexibility toward U.S. diplomatic efforts.
According to the diplomatic sources, moderates in the Angolan government are anxious to begin rebuilding the economy with more support from the West and are therefore ready to lessen the emphasis given to Angola's relations with the Soviet Union and with Cuba, which has provided 25,000 troops for duty in Angola. Angola is believed to bear the financial burden of keeping the troops in the country.
Dos Santos reflected the readiness to work with the Reagan administration for a regional settlement in a recent interview with The Washington Post in which he urged Washington to establish diplomatic relations with Angola.