Mugabe arrives in Rome for food talks

June 2nd, 2008 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
Rome, June 2 (DPA) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was one of the first leaders to arrive in Rome for this week’s summit on soaring food prices and climate change organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), reports said Monday. Mugabe is the first of 40 leaders expected at the three-day summit in the Italian capital that starts Tuesday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was also expected to attend, marking the first occasion since his election in 2005 that he would visit a European Union member state.

The Vatican has said that Pope Benedict XVI does not intend to meet any of the leaders attending the summit.

Mugabe has brought a sizeable number of security personnel for his protection, Italian media reported when he arrived at Fiumicino airport in Rome Sunday evening.

As Zimbabwe languishes in the worst political and economic crisis in its history, Mugabe must face a run-off vote for the presidency he has held for 30 years after failing to secure an outright majority against challenger Morgan Tsvangirai at the end of March.

Mugabe has a travel ban imposed on him by the EU, but he is allowed to attend international UN conferences.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plans to call for a rapid response to the problem of soaring food prices at the FAO conference.

In addition to finance for emergency aid for the worst affected developing countries, Ban plans to pressure the assembled heads of state and government to remove trade barriers and food-price controls, the Washington Post reported, citing UN sources.
DPA

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