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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 15:40 GMT
Malawi president hails Scots link
President Mutharika shaking hands with Jack McConnell
The president said the two countries were "cementing " their friendship
The president of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, has begun a four-day visit to Scotland.

Arriving in Edinburgh, he hailed a new era of co-operation between his country and Scotland.

His trip will include the signing of a co-operation agreement which will see Scottish nurses, teachers and government staff going to Malawi.

But the visit is being overshadowed by impeachment proceedings against the president in his own parliament.

Speaking outside Bute House, the first minister's official residence, the president said: "This is a new era in the history of Malawi and Scotland.

He is very welcome here and we look forward to working closely with him to make a difference for the people that he represents
Jack McConnell
First Minister

"We are writing a new chapter - cementing the relationships that have existed between our two countries for over a century and a half.

"The agreements that we are going to sign will give us the way forward in Malawi and Scotland to co-operate at all levels for us to move forward for the benefit of our people."

Mr McConnell said: "Our countries have been friends for 150 years.

"This is a good year in which to renew that friendship and to work together for the people of Scotland and the people of Malawi (who will) benefit from the co-operation that we will establish over these next three days.

Malawi visit

"He is very welcome here and we look forward to working closely with him to make a difference for the people that he represents."

Dr wa Mutharika, accompanied by his wife and first lady Ethel, made no reference to the impeachment proceedings.

He had been summoned to answer eight charges last week, but his lawyer argued that the procedures were unconstitutional.

That is the reason there has been all this talk of impeachment - a very few people who have been thriving on public resources fear they will get arrested, prosecuted and eventually imprisoned
Chikumbeteo Mtumodzi
President's spokesman

A constitutional court called a temporary halt to proceedings until it approved the rules.

Last month the Scottish National Party said the president's visit should be suspended until the "cloud of corruption" had been lifted.

Nationalists now say that attention should be focused on what Scotland can do to help Malawi.

The United Nations has warned that five million people face starvation because of drought and the effects of the Aids epidemic.

During his visit Mr Mutharika will address the Scottish Parliament and attend a conference of aid charities who want to help his country in the fight against disease and starvation.

He will also travel to Blantyre in Lanarkshire, the birthplace of explorer David Livingston, who arrived in Malawi in 1859.

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