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UN and Harare Resume Talks on Relief to Homeless

Harare has been compelled to reconsider its opposition to a United Nations-proposed appeal to international donors aimed at raising $30 million aid to those made homeless by the Zimbabwe government's May-July slum clearance campaign, sources said.

An official source in Harare said pressure from President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and the evaporation of hoped-for loans from allies of President Robert Mugabe forced the government to reconsider the UN appeal it was rejecting as of late last week.

The United Nations said Tuesday that Harare agreed to resume drafting language for the "flash" appeal to donors spelling out the scope of the humanitarian crisis.

The announcement came four days after UN Under Secretary General Jan Egeland, the world organization's top official for relief operations, said Harare had snubbed the proposal to drum up $30 million for food, shelter, medicine and other necessities.

Mr. Egeland also called upon Pretoria to do more to help Harare deal with its problems and sources close to the situation said Mr. Mbeki leaned heavily on Harare to reverse itself and reopen talks with the UN relief section. One factor which may have boosted Mr. Mbeki's influence was Iran's decision not to lend $67 million to Zimbabwe, which left Pretoria as the only likely source for the massive credit line Zimbabwe needs.

A government source in Harare said Teheran was worried Harare would not be able to repay the loan. President Mugabe also failed to get meaningful financial assistance from China despite the "Look East" economic policy he has pursued for some years.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Chief Executive Iraj Abedian of Johannesburg-based Pan-African Advisory Services how Mr. Mbeki might have proceeded in order to bring Harare around on the relief appeal.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...