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The BBC's Janet Barrie in Brussels
"Concern is growing here about developments in Zimbabwe"
 real 28k

UK Shadow Foreign Secretary Francis Maude
"Read him the riot act"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 10:40 GMT
Mugabe: 'Excellent meeting' in Paris
Robert Mugabe and Jacques Chirac
Chirac received Mugabe despite international criticism
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has described his meeting with French President Jacques Chirac as "excellent".

The two men met at the Elysee palace in Paris, in talks which attracted widespread international criticism following Mr Mugabe's controversial land reform programme.


It was an excellent meeting, very good, very friendly

Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe has also been widely criticised for his hard line against judges and journalists.

French government officials say Mr Chirac did raise the question of Zimbabwe's domestic affairs with President Mugabe and told him he hoped his country would use dialogue to resolve its problems.

They met to discuss Zimbabwe's part in the peace process for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The French spokesman said the issue of press freedom in Zimbabwe was also raised.

Correspondents say Zimbabwe's opposition party has strongly condemned France and Belgium - which Mr Mugabe visited on Monday - for appearing to embrace the veteran leader.

In Brussels there was an angry confrontation with British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who tried to carry out a citizen's arrest on Mr Mugabe.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he expected Mr Chirac "to underline international concern at what is happening in Zimbabwe".

The British press spoke more bluntly, with The Daily Telegraph saying:

"Rather than being welcomed at the Elysee, Mr Mugabe deserves to be treated as a pariah."

But Mr Mugabe left the meeting in a good mood saying: "It was an excellent meeting, very good, very friendly."

Tatchell scuffle

On Monday, Mr Tatchell used the opportunity of Mr Mugabe's presence in Brussels to attempt a citizen's arrest.

He approached the president outside his hotel, shouting "arrest Mugabe, arrest the torturer".

Peter Tatchell
Tatchell: Attempted citizen's arrest
A scuffle followed during which the gay rights campaigner said he had been punched by a bodyguard and had fallen to the ground, but was not badly hurt.

"I said the president should be arrested for the crime of torture under the 1984 United Nations' Convention on Torture of which Belgium is a signatory," Mr Tatchell said.

Mr Mugabe has attracted protests from gay rights activists for several years, since branding homosexuals "worse than pigs or dogs".

Mr Tatchell previously attempted a citizen's arrest on him in London.

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See also:

06 Mar 01 | Talking Point
Should Europe be dealing with Zimbabwe?
06 Mar 01 | Africa
Analysis: Mugabe turns to France
10 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Zimbabwe's descent into violence
26 Oct 00 | Africa
Mugabe under pressure
19 Feb 01 | Africa
Why I left Zimbabwe
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