G8, African Leaders Discuss Zimbabwe By Scott Stearns
Toyako, Japan
07 July 2008

Leaders from the world's biggest industrial nations met with African heads of state to discuss the political crisis in Zimbabwe. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, African leaders are divided over calls for sanctions against Zimbabwe's long-time ruler Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe's political crisis dominated more than three hours of talks among chiefs of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations and heads of state from Algeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana.

The United States has drafted a United Nations resolution to impose targeted sanctions including an arms embargo and a travel ban against President Mugabe and his allies. Mr. Mugabe won re-election last month in a runoff boycotted by the chief opposition candidate because of attacks against opposition supporters.

President George W. Bush in Toyako, Japan, 07 Jul 2008Speaking to reporters at the Group of Eight summit in Japan, U.S. President George Bush said G8 leaders listened very carefully to their African colleagues about their concern for what is going on in Zimbabwe.

"I care deeply about the people of Zimbabwe. I am extremely disappointed in the elections which I labeled a sham election," President Bush said.

President Bush spoke alongside Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who is the chairman of the African Union. That group's meeting in Egypt last week called for talks to establish a national unity government but did not endorse sanctions. President Kikwete told President Bush that, as friends, they would ultimately come to an understanding about the best way forward.

"The concerns that you have expressed are indeed the concerns of many of us on the African continent," he noted. "At the last summit of the African Union, many leaders expressed their dissatisfaction at the way things happened. But also we agreed on the way forward. The only area that we may differ is on the way forward. You see differently, but for us in Africa we see differently."

The U.S. Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs, Dan Price, told reporters that not all African leaders are in a position to support sanctions at this time. But he stressed there was broad agreement between G8 and African leaders about the need for the international community to unite behind a common approach to the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino said some African leaders are working toward a power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe, and the United States is waiting to see what such an agreement would look like. For example, she said, would such a government include President Mugabe?

Perino said the current government does not reflect the will of Zimbabweans who voted for change in the first round of balloting in March. The opposition party won a majority of parliamentary seats in that poll. Opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai out-polled President Mugabe in that vote, but did not top fifty percent, leading to last month's runoff.

President Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, has said he is prepared to talk with political opponents but only if they first recognize him as the legitimately-elected president.
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