The United States and Angola blame each other for a breakdown in efforts to mount a relief operation for hundreds of thousands of Angolans who may face starvation.
A representative of the Angolan government said he was worried that the Bush administration could use relief deliveries as a cover for sending weapons to anti-communist reb-els in Angola.U.S. officials call that allegation nonsense and say the administration informed the Angolan government some time ago that the United States was willing to permit delivery of food shipments by the International Committee of the Red Cross or another neutral relief organization.
The affected area is in southern Angola and encompasses territory under the control of both sides in Angola's 15-year old civil war. The government has received substantial aid from the Soviet Union over the years while the United States has been providing covert aid to the
UNITA rebels since 1986.
The Red Cross estimates that some 250,000 Angolans are in immediate danger of starvation because of recent droughts and the internal conflict. The lives of hundreds of thousands of others could be at risk in the coming weeks.
The administration favors an overland food delivery operation through a third country. The countries adjacent to the affected area are Namibia and Botswana.
Robert B. Washington, a Washington lawyer whose firm represents Angola, said in a letter this past week to members of Congress that authorities in Luanda strongly support food deliveries to Angolans of all persuasions.