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S. African President  Arrives in Zimbabwe for Inter-Party Talks


South African President Thabo Mbeki has arrived in Zimbabwe to meet with President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in an effort to broker a power-sharing deal between them.

Mr. Mbeki arrived in the capital, Harare, Saturday amid reports that the two sides are close to an agreement.

The state-run Herald newspaper quotes a presidential spokesman as saying the talks represent a milestone in relations between the two parties.

Officials have said there has been significant progress in the talks. But the spokesman did not give any details. The South African Foreign Ministry also has declined to say how close the two sides are to finding a resolution.

Mr. Mugabe was re-elected June 27 in a runoff that Mr. Tsvangirai boycotted and that many foreign observers rejected as a sham.

Mr. Tsvangirai won the first round of voting in March. He pulled out of the runoff because of violence against supporters of his opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The opposition accused Mugabe backers of killing dozens of MDC activists and injuring thousands more in the weeks leading up to the runoff.

On Wednesday, the rival parties issued a joint statement calling on supporters to stop politically motivated violence.

The country suffers from 80 percent unemployment and an official inflation rate of more than two million percent. Critics blame government policies, while Mr. Mugabe blames what he claims is a Western conspiracy led by former colonial power Britain.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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