JOHANNESBURG — JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique told a U.S. congressional delegation yesterday that he was anxious to reach a cease-fire agreement with anti-government rebels so that his war-torn country could begin to mend itself, the delegation leader reported.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., led the delegation that met with Mr. Chissano in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, during a half-day trip.
"He was frustrated that peace talks have been moving so slowly," Senator Mikulski said in Johannesburg. "He wants to get on with the constitutional changes."
Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been shifting its economy from Marxist policies toward a more free-market system. This year, Mr. Chissano's Mozambique Liberation Front, known by the acronym FRELIMO, also decided to adopt a new constitution allowing for free elections and a multiparty political system.
The government also has held several meetings in Rome this year with the rebel group known as the Mozambique National Resistance or RENAMO, its Portuguese acronym. The rebel group, once funded by South Africa, has been at war since Mozambique gained its independence from Portugal in 1975.
Senator Mikulski, on her first visit to Africa, said the meeting with Mr. Chissano was "positive and productive." The trip was part of a six-nation African tour by the delegation, which included members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the House Select Committee on Hunger and the House Intelligence Committee.
The six-nation tour was headed by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the appropriations panel's Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, which allocates foreign aid.
The delegation also visited Kenya, Uganda, Botswana and Zimbabwe.