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Mugabe asked to stay away from Olympic opening

world Updated: Aug 05, 2008 15:56 IST
Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe will not attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics because he was told by China's Communist Party to stay away, the Sydney Morning Herald daily reported on Tuesday.

Citing sources, the paper said "high-powered lobbying from political leaders who will be attending the ceremony prompted the highest levels of the Chinese government to convince him not to attend".

According to the report, Mugabe came to Hong Kong and was then told he would not be welcome in Beijing for Friday's opening ceremony.

The ceremony will be attended by American President George W. Bush, his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy and many other heads of state and dignitaries.

China and Zimbabwe have a close relationship.

Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, announced on the weekend that the controversial leader would not be in Beijing on Friday, but said that reasons were of a domestic nature, the talks with the party of political rival Morgan Tsvangirai in South Africa.

"President Mugabe attaches great importance to the ongoing talks, which is why he is not going to China for the grand opening of the Olympics," Charamba said Saturday in a newspaper column.

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