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UN Chief Annan to Take Up Aid Issues With Mugabe

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan will take the opportunity of the General Assembly’s 60th Session, which opened Tuesday, to speak with President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe about humanitarian assistance issues, sources said.

A senior U.N. official said their discussions will go beyond the normal consultations in the scope of the General Assembly and cover the aftermath of Harare’s May through July urban “cleanup” campaign that left more than a half million people homeless.

At the top of the agenda, according to this source, is the Zimbabwean government’s unwillingness to authorize a “flash” appeal to donors for $30 million to help victims of the operation. U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator Jan Egeland said last month that his office and the government could not agree on the wording of the appeal, specifically as to language describing the scope of the dislocation and humanitarian need.

The U.N. later said discussions were continuing – but weeks later the appeal has yet to be issued. Harare likewise refuses to formally request food assistance through the U.N. World Food Program although maize and other staples have long been in short supply for months and grain stocks by one official account are dangerously low.

Sources said Mr. Annan is also likely to bring up the issue of political reform – notably engaging all political parties as the path to resolving the country’s crisis.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe Zimbabwean Ambassador to the United Nation Boniface Chidyausiku, who said the meeting would be routine.

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