Mugabe at anti-poverty summit in Malaysia

LANGKAWI, Malaysia, Aug 6, 2007 (AFP) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, internationally condemned for his nation’s economic meltdown and human rights abuses, was given a warm welcome Monday at an anti-poverty summit in Malaysia, delegates said. While he has proved elusive to the packs of journalists and photographers staking out the venue, he was said to be actively taking part in round-table discussions with other African and Southeast Asian leaders.

Delegates warmly welcomed Mugabe to the three-day conference, known as the Langkawi International Dialogue, which has stirred some controversy because of his presence.

“Mugabe is actually participating in all the events,” a Malaysian delegate said, and had been “hugged and kissed” by some participants.

The delegate, who did not want to be identified, added that “other people had expressed unhappiness with Mugabe, but not at this conference.”

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said participants should focus on sharing experiences rather than politics.

“I think you have to look at the positive side,” he told AFP. “There are a lot of lessons to be learned.”

“We must not give in to political inputs to everything we do,” he went on, referring to criticism of Muga