People: Angolan enemies break the ice

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The Independent Online
BRINGING new meaning to the phrase 'party politics', Angola's men in grey suits took a break from negotiating an end to the country's bloody civil war for a few drinks at a hotel in Lusaka - the first time anyone has seen the two sides socialising. Faustina Muteka, the government negotiator, laughed loudest, outdoing Jorge Valentim, Unita's information minister, in jocularity. It began at dinner given by President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia, which, according to one delegate, 'broke the ice'.

Diplomats and journalists watching the carousing were open-mouthed - and confused, since the flurry of friendliness appears to have had no positive effect on the peace talks. Ordinary Angolans, who have been dying at a horrifying rate since Unita restarted the civil war last year, must be hoping that it's not all talk and no action.

CHILE'S former dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, celebrated his 78th birthday in military style, greeted yesterday morning by a delegation of army officers and a band playing German marches (he is known to like them). The general, who was forced out of power but remained as army chief, has no plans to retire. 'I feel fine, and with the energy and capacity to continue to fulfil my duties as commander-in- chief of the army,' he said.

BEAUTY queens always say they want to serve mankind; Miss Poland has a chance to do her bit. The Prime Minister, Waldemar Pawlak, wants to hire Ewa Wachowicz (fourth in the Miss World competition), as his spokeswoman. Her talents include ploughing fields, and Michal Strak, head of the Cabinet Office, hopes she will be able to explain government policy clearly. 'The press has presented us as an unfriendly coalition, a woman can change that picture,' he said.

FOR America's top family, it was a most unusual Thanksgiving yesterday - the Clintons spent the holiday at Camp David. Unlike Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Bush, who all loved the presidential retreat in the wooded Maryland mountains, Mr Clinton has barely visited the place. Yesterday it was different: Bill, Hillary, Chelsea and a dozen relatives enjoyed turkey and all the trimmings, and three films, including the very British The Remains of the Day.