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Zimbabwe Talks Drag On

The leader of Zimbabwe's smaller opposition faction says negotiations on the country's political crisis are a three-way affair and no one party can sign a settlement deal with another. Peta Thornycroft reports from Harare.

The leader of the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, Arthur Mutambara, says reports in the state-run media that he has signed a deal with the ruling ZANU-PF are not true.

Mutambara says the negotiations were set up following the signing of a memorandum of understanding last month between his party, Morgan Tsvangirai's larger MDC and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

He said therefore that a deal was only possible if it is signed by all three leaders, Mr. Mugabe, Mr. Tsvangirai, and himself.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been trying to mediate a resolution to the crisis, left Zimbabwe for Angola to report to Southern African Development Community head Eduardo dos Santos. Mr. Mbeki says there has been no breakdown in the talks.

"There is no break down and as everybody has said, I will talk to all of the negotiators and reconvene them," he said.

Mr. Mbeki said he would continue to push for a solution to the crisis, even if it takes six months.

Arthur Mutambara says Zimbabwe is at a crossroads and that the country's leadership must be up to the challenge to find a settlement to begin to end the humanitarian crisis which he said was engulfing the country. He said the leaders must put national interest before self-interest.

Mutambara said he hoped all three leaders would attend the summit of the Southern African Development community in South Africa this weekend.

He said he hoped a deal could be reached before then.