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Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Mbeki meets Queen
The Queen and President Mbeki
The Queen and President Mbeki met last year at the Commonwealth summit
The South African President, Thabo Mbeki, has begun a visit to Britain by meeting the Queen.



South Africa is and will remain a key partner for Britain

Prime Minister Tony Blair
Earlier, the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that Britain will train an elite South African police unit, to help the country tackle its spiralling crime rate.

The Metropolitan Police force has set up a 500,000 ($750,000) training programme for 100 officers from the special South African unit known as the Scorpions.


President Mbeki
Mr Mbeki has been criticised for being soft on the Zimbabwe crisis
The announcement comes ahead of planned talks between the two leaders.

Mr Blair is expected to offer continued help towards modernising the South African Defence Force and the secondment of a civil servant to the South African Department of Trade to co-ordinate investment by British arms firms.

"South Africa is and will remain a key partner for Britain - not just in politics, business and international affairs, but also in working together to create a safer, more secure world," Mr Blair said.

Zimbabwe crisis

The two leaders are also expected to discuss the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Mr Mbeki has been playing a key role behind the scenes in private contacts with Harare, on which he is expected to brief Mr Blair.

Later in the day (1600GMT), he will also answer questions live from around the world on BBC World Service radio phone-in which will be broadcast live on BBC News Online.

Mr Mbeki is accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Defence Minister, Patrick Lekota, and the Trade and Industry minister Alec Erwin.

The South African president is due to leave Britain on Saturday for a five-day tour of the United States.

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See also:

15 May 00 | Africa
What can the Commonwealth do?
10 May 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe poll boycott threat
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