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Nguema and Mugabe meet for Harare talks

Published Mar 30, 2006

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Harare - Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema is due in Zimbabwe on Wednesday for a state visit after Harare two years ago thwarted an alleged coup attempt against the leader, an official said.

Obiang, who has been in power in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea since 1979, is to pay a three-day state visit that will include talks with President Robert Mugabe later on Wednesday.

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"The visit comes at a time when the two countries are witnessing growing relations in the wake of the capture of mercenaries in Harare two years ago who were on a mission to topple the government of President Nguema," said William Nhara, director of the ministry of interactive affairs.

Obiang last visited Zimbabwe in April 2004 to discuss the possible extradition to Malabo of about 70 suspected mercenaries who were arrested at Harare airport a month earlier, allegedly to pick up weapons en route to Equatorial Guinea to stage a coup.

The mercenaries were convicted on weapons and immigration charges and most of them were released in May last year but the alleged mastermind of the coup attempt, Briton Simon Mann, remains behind bars in Zimbabwe.

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Five South Africans are serving long sentences in Equatorial Guinea in connection with the alleged coup plot including alleged ringleader Nick du Toit, sentenced to 34 years in jail.

British businessman Mark Thatcher, the son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, pleaded guilty in South Africa to unwittingly taking part in the alleged coup plot and paid a R3-million fine in January 2005.

Obiang's trip to Zimbabwe comes a month after he travelled to Angola for a state visit to sign a broad co-operation agreement that covers security issues as well as oil and trade.

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Mugabe last visited Equatorial Guinea in November 2004. - Sapa-AFP

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