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Angola, rebel movement clear hurdles toward peace

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The government and a former rebel movement reached breakthroughs that could jump-start Angola's peace talks, officials said on the eve of Saturday's visit by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Both sides agreed late Friday to give special status to UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi and to discuss broad policy issues before a new power-sharing government takes office, said U.N. envoy Alioune Blondin Beye.The Angolan government and UNITA, the National Union for the Total Liberation of Angola, signed a peace deal in 1994, ending two decades of civil war. The treaty called for the formation of a joint army and coalition government for the southern African country.

Implementation of the new government has been postponed three times, and U.N.-brokered talks have faltered.

Annan arrived in Luanda on Saturday for a four-day visit to try to push the process forward and said he was "encouraged" by the developments.