Lisbon — Angola, the frontline state worst affected by South African occupation of Namibia, is to launch a new diplomatic offensive to try to secure the territory's independence as US Deputy Secretary of State William Clark prepares to leave on a similar mission to Pretoria.
President Jose Eduardo dos Santos last week called together the heads of all Angola's diplomatic missions abroad to sound them out on feelings in their respective capitals and make sure they all speak with one voice on the Namibian issue when they return to their embassies.
The last time such a meeting took place was in 1978 and the subject was the same: Namibia. That meeting was chaired by the late President Agostinho Neto, a man who, when he died in the soviet Union a few months later, was reported by the West to have finally been ready to order Cuban troops out of his country and make a deal with the South Africans over Namibia.
Namibia holds the key to the political and economic future of angola. Not a week goes by without the South African armed forces launching raids into Angola across the Namibian border. Pretoria says the only mission of its troops is to hunt down the guerrillas of the Southwest Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) sheltered by Angola.
But apart from setting back SWAPO's efforts to achieve Namibia's independence through the gun, the South African military also has a knack of consistency destroying targets crucial to Angola's economic recovery.
Pretoria also arms, trains, and provides logistical backing for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), whose guerrillas cripple Angola's transport system and thus increase the dependence the Marxist regime in Luanda (angola's capital) on the 19,000-strong Cuban troops stationed in the country since its independence in 1975.
The final declaration of the Angolan envoys made it clear they had been instructed to press for the political and diplomatic isolation of the Pretoria government and the imposition of economic sanctions against South Africa.
A report by the official news agency ANGOP said that after the three-day meeting the envoys had also stressed the need to lobby against UNITA abroad, apparently to prevent its representatives from getting a seat at any future Namibia independence conference.
The Angolan envoys predictably called for what they called "strengthening the unity of the working-class movement and continuing internationalist support for national liberation movements, "but made no direct reference to SWAPO.
It would be dangerous to read too much into the omission. The leaders of Angola, who provide SWAPO with its main operational bases, publicly insist they will never let the guerrillas down. One thing, however, that has emerged as clear from the three-day conference is that the Angolan envoys think a Namibian solution more urgent than ever -- probably most of all for their own country, which has never been allowed to recover from the ruins of war.