The British Foreign Office on Monday discounted reports that Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently issued an ultimatum saying he will not attend the Euro-African summit in December in Lisbon if Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is present.
Wire services reported over the weekend that a senior British official at a meeting in Portugal said Mr. Brown “would not be there if Mugabe goes.”
But a British official said this week that Foreign Secretary David Miliband stressed the importance of Zimbabwe being represented – but warned a “media circus” caused by Mr. Mugabe’s attendance could overshadow the important work of the summit.
A Portuguese government spokesman said diplomats were looking for a solution to the vexed question – but said Lisbon would “not discriminate between countries” when invitations are sent to the various African countries.
Reached in Harare, Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu declined to comment saying Britain’s position on the summit did not merit attention.
Professor Sulyman Nyang of Howard University in Washington told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the furor over whether or not Mr. Mugabe should attend the summit reflected poor judgment all around.
A European-African summit was scuttled in 2003 over the same issue.