UK stance over Zimbabwe rapped
Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2007
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October 11, 2007
PORTUGAL yesterday said it respects Africa's position that President Mugabe should attend the European Union-Africa Summit while the EU says Britain's stance on Zimbabwe was against European interests.
Portuguese Foreign Minister Mr Luis Amado said Cde Mugabe could attend the EU-Africa summit if that is what African nations want.
Despite Zimbabwe's problems, no country "can be pushed aside from dialogue and from the development of long-term strategic relations between the EU and the continent," Mr Amado, whose country is current EU president, said.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he may boycott the planned summit if Cde Mugabe is present.
But Mr Amado said the summit — scheduled for December 8-9 in Lisbon — at the end of Portugal's six-month presidency, could not be run by special cases.
President Mugabe would be there "if such is the will of Africa," he added.
Mr Amado was speaking from Pretoria, South Africa, where he was part of an EU delegation.
On Tuesday, South Africa's ambassador to the European Union, Anil Sooklal, warned against setting preconditions for the summit.
"African leaders won't attend a watered-down summit," said Sooklal.
"It must be a summit of equals. No one should lay down preconditions. Let us meet and discuss everything of interest — even the difficult issues — with everyone present," said the ambassador.
On Monday, European Commission chief Mr Jose Manuel Barroso said the summit should not be derailed by the stand-off between Britain and Zimbabwe.
Mr Brown's position was "not fair, nor right" and was against European interests, he added.
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said all African leaders, including President Mugabe, should attend the summit.
Speaking during a visit to South Africa, the German Chancellor said the summit was an opportunity for dialogue where answers should be provided for concerns raised.
There has been no EU-Africa summit for seven years, partly due to divisions over whether President Mugabe should be allowed to attend.
The Mozambican Government has said it will not attend the summit if Cde Mugabe was not invited.
Mozambican Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Eduardo Koloma said the participation of his country in the summit set for December in Portugal depends on the unconditional attendance of President Mugabe.
The assertion resembles the recent one from Sadc chairman, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who reiterated that his country would not attend in the event of President Mugabe's exclusion.
Africa has maintained that the summit should involve leaders from the continent and invitations should not be selective.
The EU — at the instigation of Britain — has imposed illegal economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, which have hurt the economy and ordinary Zimbabweans. — AFP-Herald Reporter.
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