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French President Praises S. Africa for Zimbabwe Mediation Efforts 


French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised South Africa's mediation efforts to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe Friday during the first ever European Union-South Africa summit in the southern French city of Bordeaux. Lisa Bryant has more for VOA from Paris.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France - which holds the rotating European Union presidency - saluted a deal brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki between Zimbabwe's president and opposition leader.

At a press conference in Bordeaux, Sarkozy said he believed progress had been made in resolving the impasse in Zimbabwe after disputed presidential elections. But he expressed his horror at the violence that erupted after the first round of voting there - and said the EU remained vigilant about the situation. Earlier this week, the 27-member EU widened sanctions against the government of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe.

Participants in Friday's summit also discussed ways to fight climate change, food security, world trade issues and the problems in Sudan. Mr. Sarkozy called on Sudanese leader Omar Beshir to heed the message sent by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed in the Darfur area.

For his part, South African President Thabo Mbeki saluted a European Commission plan to earmark more than $1.5 billion to help Africans fight rising food prices.

"We must express our very strong appreciation for that because this is food and it impacts very directly on the lives of people," he said.

The EU and South Africa have generally good relations. But the two remain at odds over a series of trade agreements Brussels is negotiating with African states, which the South African government argues may not be beneficial to smaller African economies.

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