Two protracted, debilitating wars in southwestern Africa could end if an agreement among South Africa, Angola, and Cuba leads to a final settlement.U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Chester Crocker, who mediated the three-day talks in New York, said Wednesday that the parties have agreed on principles aimed at removing Cuban troops from Angola and ending South African rule in neighboring Namibia.
Further talks will be needed. South Africa's chief delegate, Neil van Heerden, told the state-run broadcasting company there is "a long way to go."
However, the agreement on principles appeared to represent the most significant progress yet toward resolving Angola's 13-year civil war and obtaining independence for South-West Africa, also known as Namibia.
Guerrillas have been waging a bush war there against South Africa rule since 1966.
Here's a brief look at background of the two conflicts:
Civil war broke out in late 1975, months after the country gained independence from Portugal. The rebels of UNITA - the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola - contended that the Marxist faction that took power with Soviet help reneged on an agreement to share power in advance of elections.
UNITA has since been fighting with the help of South Africa and, more recently, the United States. The Marxist government has been backed by Cuban troops, which are now believed to number about 50,000.
South Africa escalated its role in the war a year ago, moving troops into southern Angola on a long-term basis. At least 45 South African soldiers have since been killed.
In recent months, Cuban troops for the first time moved en masse from the northern half of Angola into the south, in some cases deploying close to the Namibian border.
Made a German protectorate in 1884, Namibia was surrendered to South Africa in 1915 and administered by that country under a mandate of the League of Nations, a precursor to the United Nations. Since 1978, South Africa has defied U.N. resolutions calling for Namibia's independence.
South Africa's has said it would grant Namibia independence only after Cuban troops leave Angola. It says the Cuban military presence might intimidate Namibians into supporting the South-West African People's Organization, the guerrilla movement that took up arms 22 years ago.