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Mbeki, Mugabe Meet to Discuss Stalled Zimbabwe Talks

South African President Thabo Mbeki met in Zimbabwe with President Robert Mugabe to discuss the stalled negotiations aimed at ending the country's political crisis. He says the talks are to resume Sunday. VOA's Delia Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg.

Following his meeting with Mr. Mugabe, the South African president repeated his earlier assurances that negotiations between Zimbabwe's political parties are going well. On Tuesday he said the talks were merely adjourned.

"They will be adjourning shortly for a couple of days because they want to go back Harare to go and consult with their principals about the work that has been, and then come back by the end of the week to resume the negotiations," President Mbeki said. "But they are proceeding."

President Mbeki is evidently more concerned about progress in the talks than he concedes in public. Before flying to Harare, he met in Pretoria with the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

The talks stalled earlier this week after Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF negotiating team offered Tsvangirai a vice presidency in a proposed government of national unity. It was rejected by the MDC leader. Mr. Mugabe already has two vice presidents who are merely figureheads without any executive authority.

Speaking earlier at a monetary policy meeting in Harare, the Zimbabwean leader said he is committed to achieving a negotiated outcome to the country's crisis.

"We committed ourselves to a process of dialogue under the facilitation of President [of South Africa, Thabo] Mbeki, whom I expect today anyway," he said. "There is total commitment on the part of government and ZANU-PF and I hope there is similar total, there is similar commitment on the part of the other parties."

But analysts have warned that Mr.Mugabe is determined to hang on to executive power.

Tsvangirai believes that he should head a transitional unity government because he got most of the votes in the preliminary presidential race in May. His majority in that poll was not enough to avoid a runoff.

Experts have warned that in addition to convincing Mr. Mugabe of the need for compromise, Mr. Mbeki will have to find a way of drawing in the security forces, particularly the Joint Operations Command, widely believe to be the real power in Zimbabwe. The Joint Operations Command is run by a senior party official, the various military commanders, the chiefs of police and prisons, and the country's senior intelligence official.