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Zimbabwe Offers to Discuss Compensation With White Farmers

Zimbabwe has invited more than a thousand white farmers to discuss compensation for property seized under the government's controversial land reform program.

A notice in the state-run Herald newspaper Thursday asked the farmers to contact the nation's lands ministry urgently.

The country's Commercial Farmers Union said it was skeptical that any compensation offered by the government would be adequate. It said in the past, offers of compensation have been worth around five percent of the independent valuation of the farms.

Support groups for displaced farmers say the offer is a sham intended to convince outsiders that the farmers are being fairly treated.

Several thousand white farmers have been forced off their land since the government and its supporters began seizing farms in 2000.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has said the land reforms were aimed at correcting injustices from the colonial era that cost native blacks their farms.

Critics blame the seizures for a plunge in agriculture production that has worsened Zimbabwe's economic crisis.

The country is facing shortages of food, fuel, and foreign currency, and an annual inflation rate of over 1,000 percent.

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