U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pressing Angola -- a major supplier of oil to the United States -- to enact more democratic reforms.
Clinton spoke to reporters Sunday after arriving in Angola's capital, Luanda and meeting with Foreign Minister Assuncao Afonso dos Anjos. She praised last year's legislative elections in Angola and said the United States "looks forward" to Angola adopting a new constitution, prosecuting past human rights abuses, and holding a "timely, free and fair presidential election."
Angola has not held a presidential vote since 1992, during a lull in the country's long civil war. Elections were due this year but may be pushed back until 2010. On Monday, Clinton is due to meet with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in office for nearly 30 years.U.S. officials say Clinton seeks to strengthen ties with Angola. She also plans to push the country to diversify its economy, and invest more in agriculture.
Washington sees agriculture as a way to lift millions out of poverty in Africa. Secretary Clinton's visit comes at a time when China has increased its influence with Angola's oil industry. A top U.S. diplomat, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, has dismissed talk of a rivalry with China, calling the idea a "Cold War paradigm."
Angola is the third stop on Clinton's seven-nation African tour. On Saturday, she met with South African President Jacob Zuma. Mr. Zuma said the new administrations in both countries are taking U.S.-South African relations to a "higher level" -- an indirect reference to differences that had arisen between the two sides in recent years. Clinton's first stop in Africa was Kenya. Her 11-day trip also will take her to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.