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Sunday, 2 February, 2003, 12:44 GMT
Mbeki highlights differences with UK
Thabo Mbeki and Tony Blair
Differences on Iraq and Zimbabwe
South African President Thabo Mbeki has highlighted big differences with the UK over Iraq and Zimbabwe.

Mr Mbeki, speaking after meeting British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his Chequers country retreat, said war with Iraq would create a crisis in the Middle East.

US Army in Kuwait
Action could be in 'weeks not months'
He also said that sanctions against Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe were not working.

After the talks on Saturday Downing Street refused to give details other than to say they were "cordial".

Speaking ahead of the talks, Mr Mbeki's predecessor Nelson Mandela accused Mr Blair of arrogance and short-sightedness and labelled him "the foreign minister of the United States".

Enormous crisis

Mr Mbeki told Sky News' Sunday with Adam Boulton that Mr Mandela's comments reflected South Africa's concern that regime change was one of the goals of the US and UK in Iraq "suggesting whatever happens there will be war".

South Africa had been speaking to Iraq, said Mr Mbeki: "They have been saying to us that they are indeed very keen and very willing to co-operate fully with the inspectors."

This is a great opportunity for the government to show it can be strong on Zimbabwe

Michael Ancram
Shadow foreign secretary
Of war with Iraq, Mr Mbeki said: "It would create an enormous crisis in the Middle East. I don't think there is any way in which you could quarantine that with Iraq."

Rising oil prices sparked by the crisis would hit the African economy, he added.

Mr Mbeki conceded, on Zimbabwe, that "clearly something went wrong" with the often violent land seizures.

Disarmed by force

On Commonwealth sanctions when they come up for renewal he said it would be a matter for discussion.

"But they have not produced any change and the European Union-imposed sanctions have not produced any change," he said.

On Friday in a joint press conference with Mr Bush, Mr Blair warned that if Iraq did not disarm through the UN route they would have to be "disarmed by force."

In contrast South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) is adopting an anti-war stance.

It has signed up to a Stop The War campaign saying war would be a disaster - escalating the price of oil and condemning the African continent to a deep economic crisis.

Nelson Mandela

The South African leader's predecessor, Nelson Mandela has accused the prime minister of arrogance and short-sightedness.

He said Mr Blair was "no longer prime minister of Britain" but instead "the foreign minister of the United States".

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said he hoped Mr Blair would use the meeting to persuade Mr Mbeki to "stand up" to the Zimbabwean dictator.

"This is a great opportunity for the government to show it can be strong on Zimbabwe," he said.

Mr Mbeki flew from London to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for a meeting of the African Union.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Dr Vincent Magombe, African Inform International
"Mbeki won't be as diplomatic as Mandela"

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See also:

02 Feb 03 | World Cup
01 Feb 03 | Americas
31 Jan 03 | Americas
31 Jan 03 | Politics
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