THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
The United States welcomes recent actions by the Government of Angola and UNITA to implement the Lusaka Protocol and lay the groundwork for lasting peace and national reconciliation.
In particular, we commend the Government's efforts to fulfill commitments made by President dos Santos to President Clinton on December 8, 1995 at the White House. The U.S. also recognizes and underscores the importance of UNITA having fulfilled this week its pledge to quarter and disarm 16,500 of its forces. This difficult and historic action marks the start of UNITA's transformation from a military force to a political party. In addition, cessation of military offensives by both sides and reduction in hostile propaganda are important steps forward.
However, much remains to be done to consolidate peace and overcome the legacy of decades of war in Angola. The United States calls upon both parties rapidly to conclude talks to create a unified armed forces of Angola. The U.S. looks to UNITA to complete fully and without delay the process of quartering and disarming all its troops, release all remaining prisoners and submit lists of officials to be integrated into government at the national and provincial levels.
It is essential that the Angolan government also continue to draw back its forces from UNITA quartering sites, barrack the entirety of its Rapid Intervention Police, halt arms flows, disarm civilians, repatriate remaining mercenaries and ensure UNITA is afforded the capacity to play its legitimate political role in the country.
The U.S. urges President dos Santos and Dr. Savimbi to hold their fourth meeting as soon as possible to address outstanding issues and build on the climate of confidence growing in Angola. We also look forward to a regular dialogue inside Angola.
The three-month renewal of the UNAVEM III mandate is a clear signal that the international community will remain engaged only as long as real progress toward peace is sustained. The United States will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with all Angolans who truly strive for peace.
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