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Portugal, Deciding To Invite Mugabe To Summit, Discomfits UK's Brown

Portugal, host of the 2007 European-African Summit in December, has confirmed that it will invite Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe over British objections.

An advisor to Portuguese Secretary of State Pedro Courela said this week that all the African Union heads of state will be invited to the EU-AU summit in Lisbon.

The question of Mr. Mugabe’s role in the summit has hung over summit planning for months. Now it remains to be seen whether Britain and other European countries such as Sweden will boycott or otherwise downgrade their participation in the summit because President Mugabe is very likely to be on the summit podium.

Political analyst John Makumbe, a senior lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe and a prominent critic of the president, said Mr. Mugabe's presence at the summit would offer European as well as African leaders with an opportunity to confront him.

Editor Patrick Smith of the London-based Africa Confidential newsletter said Portugal's invitation to Mr. Mugabe put Britain in an awkward situation, as Prime Minister Gordon Brown's has very publicly vowed to boycott the event if Mr. Mugabe were to attend.

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