WASHINGTON -- Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, seeking continued support of his UNITA movement, asked President Bush yesterday to press for Soviet cooperation in enforcing a cease-fire in the Angolan conflict.
Mr. Savimbi told reporters that the president had promised continued support for the rebel movement until a cease-fire is in place and a date set for elections.
In the fourth round of direct negotiations between the rebels and the government, known as MPLA, last week in Portugal, the two sides discussed the prospect of the United States, Soviet Union and other countries' being invited to participate in a joint commission to oversee a cease-fire and political settlement.
A statement issued yesterday on Mr. Savimbi's behalf said no formal request or agreement had been made and added that "at no time was there a suggestion that U.S. and Soviet personnel would take part in monitoring the cease-fire or supervising elections."
Mr. Savimbi told reporters that his 30-minute encounter with President Bush was "very positive" and that he had asked the president "to press the Soviets to encourage a settlement in Angola that includes an internationally monitored cease-fire and the holding of free and fair elections as in Namibia."
A White House statement said that Mr. Bush pledged continued support for Mr. Savimbi, which Mr. Bush believes "is a key factor in pushing the current negotiations to a successful conclusion."
Mr. Savimbi, leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, which has been fighting since 1975 to topple the MPLA government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, arrived in the United States days before $60 million in covert aid for UNITA comes up for congressional consideration.
Riva Levinson of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, which lobbies on behalf of UNITA, denied that Mr. Savimbi's visit was related to the vote on covert aid.
In last week's talks, the parties narrowed their differences on a statement of principles for an overall settlement and opened discussions on a cease-fire, but they remained uncompromising on the issue of UNITA's recognition by the government.