Mugabe says to attend EU-Africa summit: report

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said he will attend a European Union-Africa summit in December in Lisbon, triggering a boycott of the meeting by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Mugabe says to attend EU-Africa summit: report
"Yes, I'm going," Mugabe was quoted on Tuesday as telling Portugal's Lusa news agency in Mozambique.

Shortly after, a spokesman for Brown in London said the British leader "won't be going. Definitely."

The December 8-9 summit in Lisbon will be the first between the two continents in seven years. Previous efforts to meet have foundered over whether Mugabe, whom the West accuses of widespread human rights violations but who Africa sees as an independence hero, should be invited.

Pressed by rising competition from China in Africa, the EU is determined that this year's summit should take place, in part to solidify its position as Africa's largest trading partner.

In Brussels, an EU source said Portugal, which holds the 27-nation bloc's rotating presidency, would formally notify member states this week that it would waive an EU visa ban on Mugabe and his senior aides to enable the Zimbabwe delegation to attend the summit.

Under a deal agreed in the EU, no member state was expected to object despite Britain's misgivings, he said.

A spokesman for Brown said: "The prime minister believes that President Mugabe's attendance will undermine the summit, diverting attention from the important issues that need to be discussed and in those circumstances he has made it clear that he will not attend."

The EU source said Britain was likely to be represented by Africa Minister Mark Malloch-Brown.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Kasım 2007, 13:41
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