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Capping Reconciliation Talks, Zimbabwe Cabinet Meeting Due Wednesday

The office of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday postponed a cabinet meeting normally held that day to Wednesday, citing fatigue from his trip to Egypt to take part in an African-Chinese summit, delaying formal reconciliation of unity government members.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, speaking with journalists after meeting a Chinese defense attaché at Beijing's Harare embassy, reiterated his pledge to resume attending meetings of the cabinet as agreed in Southern African Development Community-mediated talks.

Mr Tsvangirai said he hopes his return to the weekly cabinet meetings chaired by Mr. Mugabe will help restore a normal political climate, but added that he wants to see all outstanding issues troubling the government resolved to avoid a return to "acrimony."

The prime minister announced Oct. 16 his disengagement from the ZANU-PF side of the unity government over issues including the prosecution of Senator Roy Bennett, treasurer of Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change. Other issues include the tenures of Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

SADC sources said South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to travel to Harare in a fortnight to see how the intra-governmental negotiations are proceeding. If they are blocked he will refer the matter to Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, chairman of the SADC troika on politics, defense and security which mediated in the recent crisis.

Tsvangirai spokesman James Maridadi confirmed to reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the weekly cabinet meeting was being postponed, but gave no details.

Political analyst Joy Mabenge said that with Mr. Zuma as facilitator of the Harare talks there is hope for progress – though President Mugabe is likely to remain intransigent.

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