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A crisis meeting.

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Southern African leaders met yesterday for talks on the Zimbabwe crisis as President Robert Mugabe indicated he was open to negotiations with the opposition, but only after this week's run-off election. The talks in SwazilandAa opened without South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been appointed mediator for Zimbabwe by the region and has faced criticism over his quiet diplomacy approach South Africa said there was no need for a military intervention in Zimbabwe as the Southern African Development Community defence and security committee - made up of Angola, Tanzania and Swaziland - started its meeting.

"President Mbeki is not a member of the troika," said the president's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga. Zimbabwe's political crisis deepened after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai announced he was pulling out of Friday's presidential run-off election saying violence had made a fair vote impossible.

He said he could not ask supporters to cast ballots when it could cost them their lives. Tsvangirai took refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare after his announcement but left yesterday after staying for more than two days. The state-run Herald newspaper yesterday quoted Mugabe as saying he was open to negotiations, but Friday's run-off would be held first.

"We are open, open to discussion, but we have our own principles," he said, according to the government mouthpiece. The UN Security Council has condemned the violence in Zimbabwe, while Britain, France and the United States all branded Mugabe's regime "illegitimate".

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jun 26, 2008
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