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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
02VATICAN57 2002-01-04 10:57:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

SANT'EGIDIO/UNITA TALKING PEACE

Tags:   PGOV PREL AN VT 
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1. (C) IN AN ASIDE TO POLOFF BEFORE A 12/20/01 MEETING WITH
S/E DANFORTH TO DISCUSS SUDAN PEACE INITIATIVES (REPORTED
SEPTEL), SANT'EGIDIO SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR AND AFRICA HAND DON
MATTEO ZUPPI RELATED HIS RECENT CONVERSATIONS WITH UNITA
LEADER SAVIMBI AND LOCAL UNITA REP. ZUPPI, A FLUENT
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PAGE 02 VATICA 00057 041304Z
PORTUGUESE SPEAKER WITH LONG EXPERIENCE IN AFRICA, HAS BEEN
ACTIVELY PRESSING UNITA CONTACTS TO OFFER A MEANINGFUL
CEASEFIRE SINCE BEFORE HIS APPEAL FOR USG SUPPORT (REPORTED
REFTEL) SOME MONTHS AGO. HE TOLD POLOFF THAT SAVIMBI HAD
INDICATED TO HIM DURING A PHONE CONVERSATION TWO WEEKS BEFORE
CHRISTMAS THAT UNITA, AS A CONFIDENCE BUILDING MEASURE, WOULD
OFFER A UNILATERAL THREE-MONTH CEASEFIRE STARTING AROUND
CHRISTMAS. ACCORDING TO ZUPPI, SAVIMBI ONLY NEEDED TO
CONSULT WITH HIS "GENERALS" BEFORE ANNOUNCING IT.



2. (C) ZUPPI SAID HE LATER SPOKE WITH THE UNITA
REPRESENTATIVE IN ROME, WHO TOLD HIM THAT IN A PRE-CHRISTMAS
TELEVISION INTERVIEW ANGOLAN PRESIDENT CHISSANO HAD MADE
SCATHING REMARKS ABOUT DRIVING THE UNITA REBELS INTO THE SEA,
THUS MAKING SAVIMBI'S OFFER HARDER TO CARRY OUT. ZUPPI
SPECULATED THAT BOTH CHISSANO AND SAVIMBI WERE MORE
"PRIMITIVE" THAN HAD BEEN HIS INTERLOCUTORS IN MOZAMBIQUE,
AND THAT THEIR RHETORIC FREQUENTLY HAMPERS MOVEMENT TOWARD A
PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT. NEVERTHELESS, MATTEO AVERRED, WITH A
LITTLE PUSH FROM OUTSIDE HE BELIEVED THE ANGOLANS COULD
DUPLICATE THE MOZAMBIQUE EXPERIENCE (I.E. AN OFF-SITE
DIALOGUE LEADING TO A PEACE AGREEMENT, MEDIATED BY
SANT'EGIDIO).



3. (C) QUERIED ABOUT THE ANGOLAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS' RECENT
CALLS FOR A PEACE DIALOGUE, ZUPPI RESPONDED THAT THEY WERE
WELL MEANING BUT EQUALLY UNSOPHISTICATED, AND WEAK. HE NOTED
THAT THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANYTHING TO OFFER BEYOND THEIR APPEAL;
WHAT THEY NEEDED WAS AN ACTION PLAN.



4. (C) COMMENT: AFTER REFTEL CONVERSATION, WE WERE
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PAGE 03 VATICA 00057 041304Z
PLEASANTLY SURPRISED TO HEAR THAT DON MATTEO HAD SPOKEN
DIRECTLY WITH SAVIMBI ABOUT A UNILATERAL CEASEFIRE. WE ASKED
WHETHER THE THREE- MONTH TIMEFRAME MIGHT HAVE BEEN TOO
AMBITIOUS; ZUPPI APPEARED TO US PATIENT, BUT FIRM IN HIS
INTENT TO KEEP PROBING SAVIMBI FOR WHAT HE CALLED A
MEANINGFUL GESTURE. WE LEAVE IT TO THOSE MORE FULLY
KNOWLEDGEABLE OF THE POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF THE PARTIES TO
DECIDE WHETHER THESE CONVERSATIONS POINT TO THE POSSIBILITY
OF A BREAKTHROUGH -- ALTHOUGH WE HASTEN TO ADD IT HAS BEEN
MORE THAN A WEEK SINCE CHRISTMAS AND WE HAVE NOT SEEN ANY
REPORT OF AN ANGOLA CEASEFIRE.
MERANTE
SEMBLER

CONFIDENTIAL

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2002VATICA00057 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL