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DATE=10/7/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=ANGOLA / UNITA (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-254764 BYLINE=ALEX BELIDA DATELINE=JOHANNESBURG CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Angola's UNITA rebel movement has dismissed as a propaganda trick government claims that its leader, Jonas Savimbi, is calling for an immediate cease-fire in the country's civil war. V-O-A Correspondent Alex Belida reports from our Southern Africa bureau. TEXT: UNITA spokesmen in Portugal are quoted by news agencies as dismissing as a "fake" a purported letter from rebel leader Jonas Savimbi to Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. A senior Angolan government official tells V-O-A there is such a letter but refuses to make it public or to reveal its contents. However the Portuguese news agency LUSA, quoting an official source in Luanda, reports Mr. Savimbi calls in the letter for an "immediate truce" to facilitate talks aimed at ending the current fighting. LUSA quotes the source as saying the government is evaluating the letter and that no reply has yet been sent. But UNITA spokesmen in Lisbon tell news agencies there is no such letter. They call it "a propaganda trick." UNITA fighters and government troops have been locked in an apparently fierce battle around the rebels' Central Highlands stronghold of Bailundo. Government sources have said in recent days that the town has fallen, but UNITA has repeatedly denied the reports. There has been no independent confirmation of the situation. However a senior UNITA official, in a statement this week, says there has been heavy loss of life and property since government troops launched their latest offensive against rebel positions last month. UNITA Foreign Affairs Secretary Alcides Sakala says entire villages have been destroyed by napalm and phosphorus bombs dropped by government aircraft. Mr. Sakala says UNITA continues to favor what he terms "peace through dialogue." But the UNITA official charges President Dos Santos remains committed to what he calls "policies of genocide and total war." (Signed) NEB/BEL/JWH/JP 07-Oct-1999 12:02 PM EDT (07-Oct-1999 1602 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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