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S. African conference focuses on Zimbabwe

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Zimbabwe's political crisis is the focus of a two-day meeting in Johannesburg of southern African leaders hoping to revive discussions on power-sharing.

South African President Thabo Mbeki has been mediating in talks between Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and hopes a deal can be clinched in Johannesburg, the BBC said Saturday.

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"This summit affords us the possibility to assist the Zimbabwean parties to finalize their negotiations so that together they can engage the work to achieve national healing and reconciliation," Mbeki said. "I'm certain that the millions of Zimbabweans, both inside and outside Zimbabwe, await with great expectations and high hopes a positive outcome from our deliberations."

But skepticism remains among many observers, including some international leaders refusing to accept Mugabe's legitimacy after a recent re-election in which he was the only candidate.

"We agree with the mediation, but we don't think that people who are in these negotiations... should be attending as if they have won an election," Botswana Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani told the BBC.

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