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Angolan President Urges<br> Ceasefire - 2002-02-25

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has called for a cease-fire with the UNITA rebels -- following the death Friday of rebel leader Jonas Savimbi in a clash with government troops.

Mr. dos Santos told reporters during a visit to Portugal (Monday) that he wanted to take rapid steps for the normalization of politics in Angola. He said this would start with an urgent search for a cease-fire.

The Angolan leader also said he expected to hold elections within two years, but this depended on achieving a cease-fire and the demilitarization of UNITA.

However, UNITA rebels have said they will continue fighting the government. A UNITA representative (Carlos Morgado) said Sunday that while his group is shaken by the death of Mr. Savimbi, it does not mean a military surrender.

Mr. dos Santos is scheduled to meet with President Bush at the White House on Tuesday -- along with the Presidents of Mozambique and Botswana.

The talks were scheduled before the death of Mr. Savimbi and were to focus on political stability and security in southern Africa, trade and economic development, poverty reduction and H-I-V / AIDS.

UNITA has been waging war on and off against the Luanda government since Angola gained its independence from Portugal in 1975.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.