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Issue Of Mugabe Role In Lisbon Summit Again Tests EU-AU Relationship

The international debate over whether Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should invited to a European-African summit in December in Lisbon has reopened a fault line between the two continents - which has spread within Europe as well.

Summit host Portugal said it would not discriminate against any country, leading many to believe that it will issue invitations in such a way as to include Mr. Mugabe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the same position in a recent visit to South Africa.

But British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has declared that no top British official will attend if Mr. Mugabe is present. African leaders, offended, have taken much the same stance they took 2003, when the same issue scuttled a planned EU-AU summit.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, chairman of the Southern African Development Community, said Mr. Brown’s participation in the summit was also important.

For perspective, VOA spoke with two analysts about the Mugabe contretemps: political analyst Glenn Mpani in Cape Town, South Africa, and international relations expert Innocent Sithole, who is based in Leeds, England.

Sithole told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that moves by Britain and others to isolate Zimbabwe have made the gathering more about Mr. Mugabe and Zimbabwe than larger issues of development and cooperation.

Zimbabwean listeners who want to voice their opinions on this question for airing Saturday evening should e-mail their phone number to for a callback.

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