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Jack Straw defends Mugabe handshake.

FOREIGN Secretary Jack Straw has defended his handshake with Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, implying he first did not realise who it was because it was ``quite dark''.

Mr Straw was filmed greeting the widely-condemned leader at a reception in New York last week in the lead-up to the United Nations general assembly.

President Mugabe's brutal regime has been heavily criticised for a notorious human rights record, allegations of election rigging and persecution of opponents.

Mugabe's government and senior members of his Zanu PF party are banned from entering the European Union.

Mr Straw said: ``A serious disagreement between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom does not mean that you should then be discourteous or rude. ''

CAPTION(S):

GREETING: Jack Straw clasps the hand of Zimbwabe dictator President Robert Mugabe
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 28, 2004
Words:128
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