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Angolan forces retake town as peace talks restart

SAO TOME (Reuter) - Angolan government forces have retaken the town of Camanongue in eastern Angola from Unita rebels, Angolan state radio said yesterday. The radio, monitored in the island state of Sao Tome and Principe, said government troops inflicted dozens of casualties on Unita fighters in the weekend battle for Camanongue, 52km (32 miles) from the previously besieged city of Luena.

Camanongue is on the road north from Luena, capital of Moxico province, to Saurimo, capital of Lunda South province, which has also been under rebel siege for several months.

The World Food Programme (WFP) resumed aid flights to Luena and Saurimo last week. It had suspended them after Unita fired at a UN plane in north-western Angola in mid-July.

Unita (the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) occupied Camanongue last October when it went back to war against the ruling MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). The two sides signed agreements to end 16 years of civil war in 1991 but Unita took up arms again last year after losing elections to the MPLA.

State radio and Unita radio both reported that government and rebel representatives were due to meet in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, yesterday with the aim of resurrecting the peace process. The radios said the UN Special Representative in Angola, Alioune Blondin Beye, Angola's Foreign Minister, Venancio de Moura, and Unita's acting secretary for foreign affairs, Paulo Lukamba Gato, would all meet Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

Previous UN-sponsored peace talks were held in the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan, earlier this year, but collapsed after six weeks when Unita refused to sign a peace protocol which the government accepted. The UN Security Council meets on 15 September to review the Angolan situation. It has threatened Unita with sanctions if it does not honour the 1991 peace agreements by then.