Assistant Secretary of State Chester A. Crocker will hold talks with Angolan officials in Luanda next week on the issues of a possible withdrawal of Cuban troops from that war-torn country and independence for neighboring South Africa-administered Namibia, State Department officials said yesterday.
The talks, set for Tuesday and Wednesday, mark the formal resumption of negotiations between the United States and Angola after more than a year's interruption. Angola broke off the talks over the administration's decision to send military aid to antigovernment insurgents led by Jonas Savimbi.
An agreement to resume the talks was reached in early April when Crocker met with an Angolan delegation to Brazzaville, Congo. Crocker himself was last in Luanda in January 1986, two months before Angola decided to suspend its participation in the long-stalled talks.
A State Department official said recently that Angola had promised in Brazzaville to make a new offer on the question of a timetable for withdrawing the Cuban troops, advisers and others in Angola, estimated at 37,000 by the United States.
But U.S. officials have been extremely guarded in their assessment of the prospects for any immediate breakthrough. A recent Angolan delegation to Washington gave little sign of readiness by Angola to make major concessions in view of stepped-up South African attacks on neighboring black states.
But one delegation member said Angola is prepared to show flexibility on the timing and numbers involved in a phased Cuban troop withdrawal, provided the United States also shows flexibility.
State Department officials yesterday also stressed that Crocker's trip to Luanda does not signal a decision by the administration to move toward establishing diplomatic relations with Angola.
A department statement said that "any consideration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Angola is premature, given the need for progress on . . . Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola."