Reinfeldt ‘will not boycott summit over Mugabe’

Sweden is opposed to inviting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to an EU-Africa summit in December in Lisbon but will not boycott the meeting if he attends, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said on Wednesday.

“I don’t think we should give one man (Mugabe) a veto right on the possibility for two continents to meet for important talks,” Reinfeldt told Swedish news agency TT.

“There are some 50 African states that have a lot of important questions to discuss with European states. That is why it is important that this meeting be held,” he added.

“If Mugabe comes to the meeting, we must ensure that he is not given a central role and that the question of human rights has a central role in the talks,” he said.

Pedro Courela, advisor to Portugal’s secretary of state for cooperation Joao Gomes Cravinho, told AFP on Tuesday that invitations would be issued “in the next few days”.

Portugal is hosting the meeting as the current holder of the EU presidency.

The Zimbabwean leader has indicated he wants to attend the summit even though he faces an EU ban on travel to Europe.

Reinfeldt said several weeks ago that the Portuguese presidency “ought to say that Robert Mugabe should not participate in the meeting”.

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said neither he nor any senior British minister would attend any summit attended by Mugabe. Britain accuses him of human rights abuses and fixing elections to stay in power.

Other countries, such as the Netherlands, have also opposed his presence.