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Mugabe Remarks Suggest Desire to Mend Fences With Great Britain

Zimbabwean state media reported Friday that President Robert Mugabe extended an olive branch to Britain, urging its incoming ambassador to send fair reports back to the Foreign Office and expressing the hope that he’ll help bridge the gap in relations.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that President Mugabe told new British Ambassador Andrew Pocock, who presented his credentials to the president Thursday, that the country “needs a bridge with the British.” He is also said to have urged Pocock to portray Zimbabwe fairly in his dispatches back to London.

"If you report as your government wants, why send you here?,” the newspaper quoted the president as saying to Pocock, citing senior governmental sources. “We want you here to help construct formidable bridges. We need a bridge with the British.”

Pocock is taking the place of former British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Roderick Pullen, who abruptly departed his post in Harare last month for family reasons.

Some political analysts took Mr. Mugabe’s seemingly conciliatory remarks as a sign of desperation with the economy in freefall and food and fuel shortages widespread.

National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Zimbabwean president’s comments suggest he is feeling diplomatically isolated.

More reports from VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe…