Progress in Zimbabwe talks

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The Independent Online

South African President Thabo Mbeki, mediating in Zimbabwe's post-election crisis, will go to Harare today amid growing optimism a power-sharing deal can be reached between the ruling party and the opposition.

A statement from South Africa's Foreign Ministry said Mbeki would meet President Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) President Morgan Tsvangirai.

ZANU-PF and MDC began talking more than two weeks ago to resolve a crisis that came to a head after the 84-year-old Mugabe was re-elected in a widely condemned June poll boycotted by the opposition.

South Africa's Business Day newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said Mugabe and Tsvangirai would hold make-or-break talks to finalise a deal in Harare on Sunday.

Business Day said it was understood the two were not "too far apart", though the central issues remain unresolved.

Mugabe said on Thursday the talks were going well but dismissed as nonsense media reports about a draft agreement under which Tsvangirai would run the country as prime minister while Mugabe would become ceremonial president.

Business Day said Mugabe and Tsvangirai were said to have been in contact several times during the talks to seek common ground on the delicate issue of power and positions.

The two sides are under heavy pressure to resolve a deepening crisis that has ruined the once prosperous economy and flooded neighbouring states with millions of refugees.