South African President Thabo Mbeki says Washington's labeling of Zimbabwe as an "outpost of tyranny" has discredited the Bush administration's stated policy of promoting democracy.

In an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, Mr. Mbeki said there is no justification for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent listing of the African nation alongside Cuba, Belarus, Burma, Iran and North Korea.

He called her description of Zimbabwe an exaggeration.

Some western governments have accused Mr. Mbeki of appeasing Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe as the country prepares for parliamentary elections next month.

Mr. Mbeki said he sees little benefit in publicly criticizing Mr. Mugabe. He said "shouting" would only end what he calls his quiet diplomacy with Harare.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.