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Britain's Blair Boosts Mbeki Mediation In Zimbabwe, Sees African Solution

Outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday that he supported mediation by South African President Thabo Mbeki in Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis.

Mr. Blair, in Pretoria on his final tour of Africa as prime minister, made the statement following talks with Mr. Mbeki, who was asked by the Southern African Development Community to mediate discussions between the ruling ZANU-PF of President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Mr. Blair said Mr. Mbeki and his regional counterparts are best placed to convince Mr. Mugabe to undertake democratization and economic reform.

“It is from within Zimbabwe and the region that change has got to come. And what we will do is support the people of Zimbabwe,” Mr. Blair told a joint news conference with the South Africa leader.

Mr. Mbeki told reporters that there are political problems in Zimbabwe that need to be solved.

“This process has started and we are indeed engaged in this process,” he said, adding that SADC has been updating the African Union about the progress.

“The second decision was that there are problems affecting the Zimbabwe economy. As a consequence of this, the region then said the Secretariat of the development community in the region should gather and look at Zimbabwe’s economy with a view to reporting back to SADC on what might be done to address the economic challenges of Zimbabwe.” Mr. Mbeki continued.

The two leaders also discussed next week’s G-8 summit in Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm, Germany. They also discussed trade and political relations between the two nations.

Political analyst Brian Kagoro told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, that Mr. Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, will equally be concerned about Zimbabwe.

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