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Some Urge Stepping Over Mugabe Stumbling Block To EU-Africa Summit

There is some movement in European diplomacy to lower objections to the attendance of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at an EU-Africa summit scheduled for later this year, so that the gathering will not be derailed as it was in 2003 when African leaders boycotted the planned event over Zimbabwe’s exclusion.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted as saying at last week’s Group of Eight summit that Mr. Mugabe’s “unspeakable acts” and policies to which the European Union objects “cannot be the case that we do not work with a continent.”

Set for December in Lisbon, the EU-Africa summit will be the first in seven years.

A European Union official told VOA that something of a consensus was emerging that the summit should proceed even if Mr. Mugabe insisted on showing up.

The African Union has insisted that neither Zimbabwe nor Mr. Mugabe be excluded from the summit, implicitly threatening another boycott. Meanwhile, outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken a softer line on Zimbabwean participation, mainly because South African President Thabo Mbeki is now mediating the Zimbabwean crisis at the behest of the Southern African Development Community.

Senior correspondent Luis Costa Ribas of Portugal’s SIC Television told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that that while Portugal does not support Mr. Mugabe, it wants to see the summit to go ahead as planned.

Sydney Masamvu, an International Crisis Group senior analyst for Southern Africa, said Merkel's statements indicated that some in Europe saw too much economic potential in Africa to risk another summit failure over the Zimbabwe crisis.

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