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Zambia leader hails Zim progress
afrol News/ZANIS, 6 December
- President Levy Mwanawasa has disclosed that satisfactory progress has been achieved in addressing the political situation in Zimbabwe. President Mwanawasa who is also SADC chairman, said this in Berlin today when he addressed SADC Ambassadors accredited to the Federal Republic of Germany.
Briefing the Ambassadors on the successes of the regional body's 27 years of existence, Dr Mwanawasa said South Africa's President Tambo Mbeki's mediatory talks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and the opposition were still on-going.
Dr Mwanawasa said President Mbeki has held several meetings with the ruling ZANU-PF and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this year.
"The talks are on-going and so far, satisfactory progress has been recorded," President Mwanawasa said.
Nine SADC countries accredited to the Federal Republic of Germany namely South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Angola, Namibia and Mauritius including Zambia, were represented at the meeting.
Zambia's minister of health Dr Brian Chitawo, his tourism counterpart Michael Kaingu, State House deputy minister Richard Taima and other senior government officials, also attended the meeting which was held at hotel Intercontintal Berlin.
The President said both the African Union and SADC's approach to the political situation in Zimbabwe embraced quiet diplomacy while expressing solidarity and support with the Zimbabwean leadership.
He said the SADC heads of state and government summit held in Lusaka in August this year, mandated SADC ministers of Finance in consultation with the government of Zimbabwe, to come up with an economic recovery plan for that country.
Dr Mwanawasa told the Ambassadors that the SADC region has recorded tremendous economic progress since 1980 when it was launched including the total decolonisation of the African continent.
He said the Lusaka summit this year agreed to launch the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) by August, 2008 in order to accelerate regional economic integration and development.
Member states were now addressing a number of challenges to facilitate the launch of the FTA next year.
He said the regional body also agreed to start preparing for the establihsment of the SADC Customs Union by 2010.
Dr Mwanawasa said the Gaborone-based SADC Sacretariat was mandated to develop a comprehensive regional infrastructure masterplan in consultation with member states which will be presented for consideration by the heads of state and government at their next ordinary summit in South Africa next year.
President Mwanawasa also revealed that the Lusaka SADC summit approved the holding of the tripartite summit involving SADC, Comesa and the East African Community (EAC) to deepen strategic cooperation and harmonisation between the three regional groupings.
President Mwanawasa is in Germany on an official visit to that country, the first of its kind by a Zambian head of state in over three decades.
Among other engagements, the President is scheduled to hold private talks with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel on a wide array of issues.
The two leaders are later in the day expected to hold a joint press conference on the outcome of their closed-door talks.
He will also meet German president Horst Kohler and Germany potential investors and business community.
Zambia's Ambassador to Germany General Kingsley Chinkuli told ZANIS ahead of President Mwanawasa's arrival in Germany that the President's visit will consolidate the long-standing relations between the two countries.
He said the trip would also afford Germany potential investors an opportunity to hear from the head of state himself about the abundant investment opportunities in Zambia.
From Germany later in the week, President Mwanawasa will proceed to Portugal to attend the European Union Africa summit.
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