Warring factions in southern Africa are on the verge of peace now that Angola, South Africa and Cuba have agreed to work out details of an agreement in principle to end the fighting and foreign intervention.
"The blueprint has been accepted by all parties," Chester Crocker, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said in a prepared statement Wednesday.Negotiators in New York agreed to the points last week and then submitted them to their governments. If details are worked out in an Aug. 2 meeting at Geneva, the agreement could bring an end to the 13 years of war in Angola and the South African domination of Namibia.
Crocker, the acting mediator, described the agreement as a "first step - not more than that," but one that is significant because it would lead to accelerated negotiations between South Africa, Cuba and Angola with mediation by the United States.
In Pretoria, South African Foreign Minister Roelof Botha said an important stage in negotiations had been reached, but "the difficulties and obstacles ahead should not be underestimated."
He said, "We have traveled a long distance, but we are still at the foot of the mountain."
The four parties will meet in Geneva, according to announcements from the involved governments, to begin working out the details of the agreement in principle.
The key is a mutual and simultaneous withdrawal of the estimated 47,500 Cuban troops in Angola and the pullback of South African security forces from Namibia.