President Bush wants Angolans to end their civil war following the death of the country's rebel leader last week. Angola's President was at the White House Tuesday where he told Mr. Bush he wants a cease-fire with UNITA rebels "as soon as possible."
Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos says he is ready to re-open talks with UNITA following last Friday's death of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, who was killed during a government offensive.
Following an Oval Office meeting with President Bush, Mr. dos Santos said Angolans have found a new situation in their country and a new perspective on peace following Mr. Savimbi's death. The Angolan leader calls the new situation "very good" and says he wants a new round of talks with UNITA leaders.
Rebels have been fighting Angola's government on and off for more than 25 years in a conflict that has displaced millions of people and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. While President dos Santos' visit to Washington was scheduled long in advance, Mr. Savimbi's death has clearly refocused attention on ending the country's civil war.
In a written statement following their meeting, Mr. Bush urged President dos Santos "to move quickly" toward a cease-fire, saying the Angolan leader has it within his power to end years of fighting by "reaching out to all Angolans willing to lay down their arms."
White House officials say Mr. Bush did not ask the Angolan leader to call a unilateral cease-fire as demanded by some rebel officials. Instead, the president's statement says "all parties have an obligation to seize this moment to end the war."
UNITA rebels still scrambling to replace Mr. Savimbi say they will keep up the fight. President dos Santos says he hopes to hold national elections within the next two years, but that depends on both reaching a cease-fire and demobilizing UNITA fighters. President dos Santos was joined at the White House by Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano and the president of Botswana, Festus Mogae. The leaders discussed regional security issues including civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and political unrest ahead of elections in Zimbabwe. President Bush praised the three visiting leaders as running countries that are models of transparency and said, in this regard, Zimbabwe is headed in the wrong direction.
President Chissano says trade and economic development were also high on the meeting's agenda with African leaders, urging President Bush to encourage more U.S. investment on the continent aimed at boosting profits for both U.S. and African business.
"We have emphasized the role of the private sector, and we have invited the private sector of the United States of America to share our preoccupations and to help us to find solutions," said Mr. Chissano. "One point that was clear is that what we are doing now is not to bring benefits one-way but is to bring benefits for the two-ways both for the non-developed countries and for the developed countries as well."
President Chissano says all three leaders expressed their sympathy to President Bush over the terrorist attacks of September 11 and vowed to support the U.S.-led fight against terrorism. President Mogae says African leaders need more assistance to fight transnational crimes that can fund terrorist acts crimes that he says include drug smuggling and money laundering.