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Western Diplomats 'Walk Out' in Spat with Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe's foreign minister has reprimanded a group of western diplomats for walking out of the funeral of President Robert Mugabe's sister after the president said "to hell with" western nations.

Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told reporters Tuesday he summoned the ambassadors of the United States, Germany, and the European Union to convey the "concern and disappointment" of the Zimbabwean government at their behavior.

But the diplomats said after the meeting they had nothing to apologize for. They said Mr. Mugabe's comments about western nations during his funeral speech Sunday were disrespectful to them and the countries they represent.

At the funeral, Mr. Mugabe accused western nations of trying to push him from power. "To hell with them," he said.

Mr. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since the country won independence from Britain in 1980. Nearly 10 years ago, his government began seizing white-owned commercial farms. Soon afterward, Zimbabwe's food production dropped sharply, and the economy fell into a sustained, steep decline.

In the past decade, Britain, the U.S. and other countries have imposed sanctions on President Mugabe and his close associates.

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

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