§ 27. Mr. Ray Powell
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he intends to hold negotiations with UNITA to secure the release of the British hostages.
§ Mr. Rifkind
Since the seizure of the Britons on 23 February we have been making strong representations through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to try to secure their earliest release. Dr. Savimbi made it clear that he would not indicate terms for release until they arrived at UNITA's base. They arrived on 30 March. Since then Foreign and Commonwealth officials have had contact with a representative of UNITA in London. Our initial understanding has been that if we sent an emissary for discussions this would lead to immediate release. We have made clear our readiness to do this. Action now lies with UNITA. A UNITA spokesman on 18 April assured the families that the Britons would be freed. A UNITA representative who returned to Angola for consultations has now arrived back in London. We hope to get an authoritative reaction very soon.