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Angola And Namibia

Volume 15: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1981

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asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations he has received on the feasibility of securing a simultaneous withdrawal of Cuban military forces from Angola and South African military forces from Namibia.

None, Sir. The collective efforts of the five Western countries are directed towards a Namibian settlement. The withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola is not a pre-condition for a Namibia settlement, although there is obviously a relationship between the two issues. Her Majesty's Government have on several occasions made it clear that they regard the presence of Cuban troops in Africa as a destabilising influence.

In the light of my hon. Friend's answer, does he agree that a simultaneous withdrawal of Cuban and South African troops from both countries as a prelude to free and democratic elections in both countries offers the best hope for peace in that troubled part of southern Africa? Does he agree that for the British Government to take that attitude would at least be even-handed?

I answer my hon. Friend's important point in two ways. Of course the Western group of five nations are working under Security Council resolution No. 435, under which there are various arrangements, which include the withdrawal of South Africa troops to certain bases within Namibia during the transitional process. I have also said, however, that I believe that there is a relationship between the Namibian settlement and conditions in the next-door country of Angola. As the Angolan Government have already said, it is their intention in the long term to demonstrate that Angola is a non-aligned country and it is their desire to see the withdrawal of Cuban troops. We believe that that move and those measures would lead to an easing of the tensions in the area.

Will the Minister draw a clear distinction between the presence of Cuban troops in Angola at the invitation of the legitimate Government to defend Angolan territory against the repeated attacks of the South African Government, and the presence of South African troops in Namibia, which is being illegally occupied and used as a staging post to invade Angola? Will the Minister resolutely condemn the latest attack on Angola, which the South Africans now admit took place?

As I have already said, we believe that the presence of Cuban troops in Africa as a whole is a destabilising influence. Their presence in Angola is, of course, not directly linked with resolution 435, but it is the belief not only of the British Government but of the group of five Western nations that there is an important relationship.