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UN Official Departs For Talks On Zimbabwe Crisis

Senior UN official departs for talks on Zimbabwe’s political crisis

5 August 2008 – A senior United Nations political official is heading to South Africa today for talks on the mediation process to resolve the political crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios is going to Pretoria in his capacity as the UN’s high-level representative to the Reference Group, which was set up by South African President Thabo Mbeki to support the mediation effort to end the ongoing dispute between President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The other members of the Group are the African Union and the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mr. Menkerios will also visit Zimbabwe – which has been beset by violence and a worsening humanitarian situation since the first round of elections in March – later in the week before returning to New York over the weekend, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.

Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the announcement by Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai that they have signed an agreement paving the way for talks to end instability in the country.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties in Zimbabwe, which provides a framework for formal talks to end the political crisis in the country,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

ENDS

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