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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
US urges Angola reconciliation
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has urged the Angolan government and its former opponents in the Unita rebel movement to consolidate their ceasefire in a spirit of national reconciliation.

Mr Powell was speaking during a four-hour visit to Angola, where he met President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, and addressed the commission chaired by the United Nations which is in charge of the peace process in the country.

War legacy
Four million people displaced
1m+ need aid
Infrastructure shattered

He recalled the words of President Abraham Lincoln at the end of the American civil war when he asked the former combatants to show charity towards all, but malice towards none. Angola is currently dealing with the after-effects of a 26-year civil war, which ended only with the death earlier this year of Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the Unita rebel movement.

Addressing a special meeting of the Joint Commission, the body that is overseeing the peace process, Mr Powell pledged the continued support of the US as Angola recovers from the civil war.

"Angola is facing enormous challenges as millions of Angolans are integrated into society, and I want to assure everybody that the United States stands ready to help and do as much as we can to make this a successful reintegration," he said.

Oil

The BBC's Justin Pearce says that Mr Powell hinted during his speech that he wished to see the Joint Commission play a role in strengthening democracy in Angola.

The commission has representation from the government and the former rebel movement, Unita, and is chaired by the United Nations.

"If it is to succeed, the Joint Commission cannot just become a mechanical exercise without meaning to anyone other than the participants. The Joint Commission and the healing it is meant to foster must be an instrument to build a new Angola, a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Angola," he said.

Angolan child
War is over but the suffering remains great

Angola is of enormous strategic importance to the United States because of its plentiful off-shore oil reserves.

Angola is currently the eighth largest supplier of petroleum to the United States and its share is expected to increase as newly discovered oil fields are exploited.

In recognition of this importance, the US is the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to Angola, saying it has given more than $100m in assistance over the past year.

Together with Russia and Portugal, the US has for the last 10 years been one of the three observer nations to the Angolan peace process.

Our reporter says oil, humanitarian aid, and the peace process were believed to have been on the agenda for Colin Powell's brief meeting with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos earlier on Thursday morning.

Mr Powell has now left Angola for Gabon.

Jonas Savimbi, killed after 26 years of civil war

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20 Sep 01 | Americas
16 Aug 02 | Africa
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