Angolan President on rare visit to S Africa
PRETORIA: Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos on Tuesday started a historic first state visit to South Africa, a trip aimed at ending decades-long enmity between two of the region's major economies. His visit follows President Jacob Zuma's trip to the oil-rich state in 2009, which confirmed a detente with Africa's top producer of crude after decades of strained relations under apartheid and the early years of black-majority rule.
The two leaders met in the capital Pretoria at 9:15 am (0715 GMT) and they were to hold talks and sign an as yet undisclosed agreement at the Presidential Guest House before having lunch together with their wives. Relations between the two countries were marred during the apartheid era as South Africa sided with UNITA rebels who were fighting dos Santos's Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, (MPLA) during its civil war.
After the end of apartheid in 1994, former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki favoured a negotiated settlement to the civil war, a stand opposed by dos Santos until the conflict ended in 2002. Under Mbeki, the two nations also feuded over how to handle the crisis in Zimbabwe and the conflict in DR Congo. A South African government statement issued ahead of dos Santos's two-day visit said the trip was meant to "strengthen bilateral and economic ties." Dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979, does not often make state visits within the continent or elsewhere. The importance of the trip to South Africa was underlined on Tuesday when he was accompanied to Pretoria by his ministers for foreign affairs, industry and mines, energy and water, and urban planning and housing. -Afp