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British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook
"We have agreed to help fund land reform but it has got to be within the law"
 real 28k

The BBC's Jane Standley
"African leaders will be forced to raise the issue"
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Agrippa Gava, director War Veterans Association
The murdered farmer was "a victim of his own violence"
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Friday, 21 April, 2000, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
Cook seeks Zimbabwe mediator
Mugabe and Chissano
Robert Mugabe greets President Chissano at Victoria Falls
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has sought Mozambique's help as a go-between with Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe to try to break the impasse over the seizure of white-owned farms.

Thousands of veterans of the war against white rule, which ended in 1980, have occupied white-owned farms in Zimbabwe and attacked farmers, their black employees and opposition supporters.

Mr Mugabe has refused to condemn the violence, which has led to the deaths of two white farmers and at least four black political opponents.

On Tuesday he blamed the farmers for provoking the violence by refusing to accept land reform.

Mr Cook has spent much of the week trying to mobilise international support and trying to persuade the ruling Zanu-PF party to climb down.

Robin Cook meets his Nepalese counterpart Chakra Prasad Bastola
Robin Cook meets his Nepalese counterpart Chakra Prasad Bastola
The foreign secretary, in Nepal on a pre-arranged visit, telephoned Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano before he went into talks at Victoria Falls with Mr Mugabe and other southern African leaders.

He told the BBC: "I hope that President Chissano and his colleagues, when they meet President Mugabe, will warn him what he is doing is not just damaging Zimbabwe and and not just bringing about the end of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

'Stability threatened'

"But it also threatens investment and the standing of stability of the countries around him."

Mr Mugabe is expected to brief President Chissano, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and three other African presidents about the deepening political crisis in his own country.

Mr Cook said Britain was prepared to fund land reform in Zimbabwe "but it has got to be within the rule of law and the illegal occupations have got to come to an end".

He said of Mr Mugabe: "He cannot ignore the rule of law and he cannot do so without deep damage to his country and it is his people who will suffer.

"We would certainly expect that any programme of land reform which we were supporting would take place on the other side of free and fair elections so the people of Zimbabwe can decide for themselves who governs them."

Zimbabwe's Defence Minister Moven Mahachi said the summit was designed to deal with peace efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There was violence yesterday when Leeds was playing a Turkish team. You can't say London is in chaos

Zimbabwean Defence Minister Moven Mahachi
He said he did not expect foreign heads of state to come to Zimbabwe and start discuss the country's internal politics.

Mr Mahachi blamed the foreign media for exaggerating the situation and added: "There is no chaos in this country. A few incidents of violence are found everywhere.

"There was violence yesterday when Leeds was playing a Turkish team. You can't say London is in chaos."

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See also:

21 Apr 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe plays down land issue
20 Apr 00 | Africa
Violence flares in Zimbabwe
19 Apr 00 | Talking Point
Are the whites to blame?
20 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Queen's note upsets Zimbabwe whites
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