If the peace with UNITA holds, dos Santos no longer needs to engage in conflict with Namibia and Zambia, thereby improving relations with these neighbors. Dos Santos's relations with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, whom he accused in the past of supporting UNITA, have begun to improve. Sanctions with regard to Angola's "blood diamonds" should no longer be an issue. ("Blood diamonds" are diamonds smuggled by rebel groups—such as Angola's UNITA and Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front—RUF. These groups, notorious for grisly violence against their enemies, trade illegally mined diamonds for arms to sustain their terrorist activities. The diamonds are then passed through a free-trade zone, often in Switzerland.)
In the March 2002 Zimbabwe elections, dos Santos stood by beleaguered President Mugabe. Dos Santos was invited to the U.S. White House in February 2002, along with President Chissano of Mozambique, to discuss Zimbabwe and opportunities for peace. Because Angola supplies 7% of U.S. oil imports, it is unlikely that the United States would pressure dos Santos into making political and economic reforms he does not want.
South Africa remains suspicious of dos Santos's ambitions to be a center of influence in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) organization and in the region generally, but dos Santos appears firm in his leadership position. He began his term as chair of SADC by hosting the summit of SADC in Luanda in early October 2002. In his opening remarks, he noted the achievement of peace in his country, and called on the 11 heads of state in attendance to prioritize education for women, since higher literacy for women has shown to reduce child mortality.
With its diamonds, minerals, and petroleum, Angola is a force to reckon with. South African diamond mining company De Beers hopes to reestablish a partnership with the Angolan state diamond company, Sodiam. Sonangol, the state oil company, is providing advice to Equatorial Guinea's new state oil company, Gepetrol.