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Spain Calls for Mugabe to Not Attend EU-Africa Summit

Spain has joined Britain in calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to stay away from the upcoming European Union-Africa summit in Portugal.

Speaking to reporters in Madrid Tuesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Spain would prefer that Mr. Mugabe not take part in the summit, because he would distract attention from serious issues.

Mr. Mugabe has said he will attend the two-day summit in Lisbon Saturday and Sunday.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he will boycott the summit if Mr. Mugabe is present. London accuses the Mugabe government of severe human rights violations and causing Zimbabwe's economy to collapse.

Earlier Tuesday, a group of prominent European and African writers accused their continents' leaders of "political cowardice" for failing to put Zimbabwe and Darfur high on the summit's agenda.

The writers include Nobel Prize winners Gunter Grass from Germany, South Africa's Nadine Gordimer and Nigeria's Wole Soyinka, as well as former Czech President and playwright, Vaclav Havel.

The Zimbabwean government has forcibly stifled opposition while struggling to deal with widespread shortages of food, fuel and other basic goods. The country's official inflation rate stands at more than 7,000 percent, though some analysts have put the figure much higher.

Mr. Mugabe blames his country's problems on sanctions against his government by the United States and Britain.

On Monday, the U.S. said it will impose travel restrictions on an additional 38 people, including state security officials and adult children of Zimbabwean government officials studying in the United States.