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Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Calls for Honorable Exit for Mugabe

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he hopes negotiations with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party will allow the veteran leader an honorable exit from power. Tsvangirai made the statement one day after Mr. Mugabe said he was committed to a successful conclusion of the talks. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from our Southern Africa Bureau in Johannesburg.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai Thursday said he hoped negotiations would lead to compromise and a transitional government.

In an interview from Johannesburg on Britain's Channel Four television, Tsvangirai said he believed there was common understanding on the need for a negotiated end to the Zimbabwean crisis through power sharing. But he said any transitional government should last no longer than two years.

He said he met last week with President Robert Mugabe, over dinner, for the first time in years and the two leaders discussed possible pitfalls in any future government.

Mr. Mugabe Wednesday said in Harare that the government and ruling ZANU-PF party also supported the talks.

"Speaking for ZANU-PF and myself there is that total commitment to see to the speedy conclusion and successful outcome of the talks," he said.

Mr. Mugabe said the talks were going well but that they were in an initial stage. He said later stages would need the participation of the two leaders.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has been mediating talks between the government and opposition aimed at ending a confrontation that followed a controversial run-off election last month.

Tsvangirai defeated Mr. Mugabe in the first round of the presidential vote but withdrew from the run-off accusing the government of launching a wave of violence in which dozens of opposition leaders and several pro-government activists were killed.

Mr. Mugabe was declared the winner of the run-off but his victory for the most part has not been recognized internationally. And the new parliament, in which the opposition won a majority of the seats, has not been able to convene.

Mr. Mbeki met Mr. Mugabe Wednesday in Harare and denied reports that the talks had stalemated.

"The talks are progressing," he said. "There naturally are some matters which will require that the negotiators come back to negotiate with the principals."

Tsvangirai in his interview acknowledged there were difficulties but said the negotiations were not deadlocked. They are to resume Sunday in South Africa.