JOHANNESBURG — SOUTH Africa said yesterday it would not send troops to Angola as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force trying to end Africa's longest war.
But it offered to help clean up millions of landmines scattered across the country.
South African President Nelson Mandela yesterday offered to send troops to help find an estimated 26 million mines in Angola, Angolan Ambassador Alexandra ``Kiko'' Rodrigues said.
``We discussed sending soldiers to help in the demining process. We will decide how many soldiers will go next week,'' Rodrigues said after meeting President Mandela in Pretoria.
The UN has estimated that there are 2.5 landmines per inhabitant in Angola, which has a population of 10.5 million.
South Africa is reluctant to commit troops because of past involvement in Angola under apartheid governments that backed Jonas Savimbi, rebel leader of Angola's National Union for the Total Independence of Angola.
The UN Wednesday authorized more than 7,000 police, civilians, and monitors to uphold Angola's fragile cease-fire.