Rowan Williams to meet Robert Mugabe


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The Archbishop of Canterbury is to meet President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe despite the regime's pariah status.

Dr Rowan Williams will try to settle a dispute between the church and state. There has been an increasing number of reports in recent months that Anglican priests have been persecuted by the Zimbabwe government and property seized.

Eight months ago, the Archbishop wrote an open letter to President Mugabe insisting he "put an end to these abuses forthwith". But he risks having his visit turned into a propaganda coup by the Mugabe regime. It is the first visit by a high-profile British figure for almost 10 years.

The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe split in 2007, and ever since, there have been violent clashes between worshippers loyal to Bishop Nolbert Kunonga – who has praised Mr Mugabe as a "prophet from God" – and Dr Chad Gandiya, the rival Bishop of Harare.

Dr Williams will also visit Malawi and Zambia next month.