Officials from Angola, Cuba and South Africa announced an agreement in principle Tuesday on a political settlement in southwestern Africa and celebrated with champagne.
The accord was a personal success for U.S. mediator Chester Crocker, who has acted as intermediary to establish a framework for independence for South African-controlled Namibia and parallel withdrawal of 50,000 Cuban troops from Angola.Angolan, Cuban and South African delegates said after five days of indirect negotiations in Geneva that the provisional agreement still had to be approved by governments.
Once approval is given, South African delegation leader Neil van Heerden said a final setlement can be signed at a planned meeting of foreign ministers in the Congolese capital of Brazzaville.
"We now have an agreed document which will go to capitals," van Heerden said after a final 40-minute plenary session among all delegates, which was chaired by Crocker and ended with champagne toasts.
"We are pleased with the document," he said. "If all parties accept, it will be signed in Brazzaville."
The South African diplomat said the officials in Geneva did not lay down exact "dates for implementation" of the various provisions, including South African withdrawal from Namibia, which it has ruled since 1915, the deployment of U.N. peace-keeping forces and free elections.
No date was made public for the phased withdrawal of the Cuban troops from Angola - the rate of withdrawal and total length of time having been the issues which had blocked agreement during meetings mediated this year by Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs Crocker.
Angolan officials said the Geneva accord represented "an agreement in principle on a framework which has to be completed and approved by governments."
Cuban delegates said there were "still some outstanding points," referring to actual implementation dates.
"The troops will be withdrawn in the time that has been agreed," he replied when asked to confirm that Cuban withdrawal had been agreed pending final approval in capitals.
Crocker had imposed a blackout on substantive details.