The government and opposition leaders in Zimbabwe have agreed a mechanism for talking about talks on the country's crisis, it emerged yesterday after a 45-minute unscheduled meeting between Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, and the Movement for Democratic Change.
Meeting for the first time with the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other officials, Mr Mbeki said he had a commitment from President Robert Mugabe "to be serious" about dialogue, according to reliable sources at the meeting in Harare.
The meeting then agreed on a "mechanism", through which the ruling Zanu-PF party's Patrick Chinamasa and the MDC's Welshman Ncube would sit down to "design a method and agenda for talks".
Mr Mbeki had earlier held three hours of talks with Mr Mugabe during his one-day visit to Zimbabwe.
Mr Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo, the President of Nigeria, have been trying since last year's controversial elections to bring Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai together to negotiate an end to the violence, lawlessness, famine and economic collapse that have devastated the country for the past four years.