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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
US backed Zimbabwe land reform
Children working the land in Zimbabwe

By Martin Plaut
BBC Africa analyst

The key role played by the United States ahead of Zimbabwe's independence in resolving the sticky point of land redistribution has just come to light.

The land issue has always been emotive in Zimbabwe - as can be seen with the current crisis sparked off by the government seizure of mainly white-owned farms in 2000.

And it was important to all parties in 1980 that signed the Lancaster House Agreement that led to the transformation of Rhodesia into Zimbabwe.

The road to the agreement was not straight forward, and as an investigation by the BBC's The Westminster Hour programme has revealed, it was much bumpier than at first suspected.

Lord Carrington
I thought it was going to end in tears
Lord Carrington, former UK foreign secretary