Plans for a European Union-African Union summit this December in Portugal are well advanced, an EU official said Monday, but the question of whether Zimbabwe should be allowed to participate is already dominating pre-summit discussions.
An EU-AU summit planned for April 2003 had to be canceled because European and African participants could not agree whether President Mugabe should be invited.
EU development and humanitarian aid spokesman Amadeu Altajaf Tardio told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the EU is failing to find a solution to the issue of Zimbabwe’s participation in or exclusion from the summit.
South African Foreign Affairs minister Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma said the African Union “would not allow Zimbabwe to be excluded or treated differently."
Addressing a news conference after meeting Zuma in South Africa Friday, Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado said the EU would prefer to treat its bilateral policy on Zimbabwe “as a separate issue from its relations with Africa" as a whole.
Zimbabwean political analyst Farai Maguwu said Mr. Mugabe should not be included at such a high level forum when conditions in Zimbabwe continue to deteriorate.
The European Union renewed targeted sanctions against Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle in February, and France soon after indicated that President Mugabe would not be welcome at the France-Africa Summit it held in Cannes that month.
But Portugal, prospective host of the EU-AU summit, backed by Spain, has argued that including Mr. Mugabe could help in finding a solution to Zimbabwe's crisis.