Khartoum — President Mugabe arrived here yesterday evening to attend the Fifth African Caribbean and Pacific summit which begins today.
The President, who is being accompanied by the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and senior Government officials, was welcomed at Khartoum International Airport by Sudanese President Mr Omer al-Bashir and senior Sudanese government officials.
Also in the welcoming party was the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde Obert Mpofu, and Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Belgium, who is also accredited to the ACP in Brussels, Mr Gift Punungwe, who were already here attending meetings ahead of the heads of state summit.
Vice President Joice Mujuru will be Acting President during Cde Mugabe's absence.
At least 10 heads of state and government and two vice presidents from the ACP member states had by last night arrived for the summit.
More are expected to jet in today.
The two-day summit will be held under the theme "United for Peace, Solidarity and Sustainable Development".
Last week, a special envoy of Mr al-Bashir, Mr Joseph Ukel Abango, met Cde Mugabe at his Munhumutapa Offices in Harare and briefed him about the summit.
Peace and development will dominate proceedings as well as how the ACP, a trade bloc comprising 79 countries, should co-operate with other bodies such as the European Union.
The Khartoum summit comes as Zimbabwe has opened an embassy in that country which will be headed by Mr Lloyd Gundu.
Mr Abango and Sudan's Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Mohamed Sharief said the establishment of a mission in Khartoum by Harare illustrated the strengthening of relations between the two countries.
According to information on the ACP website, the summit will provide the opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the Maputo Declaration, which was adapted in 2004, and redefine political guidelines for the group in the face of a rapidly changing world order.
The last ACP summit was held in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2004.
During the meeting, the heads of state and government will discuss the situation in the six ACP regions with regard to peace, security and stability.
The summit will examine the mechanisms for strengthening intra-ACP co-operation and will define the relevant guidelines.
The leaders will also discuss the progress of the negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreements due to come into force in 2008.
In addition, new developments on the international arena and major reform of EU policy have led the ACP group to reposition itself in order to pursue its aspirations as expressed in its founding charter, the Georgetown Agreement. Following the reflections by ACP ambassadors and ministers, it is now the turn of the heads of state and government to exchange views on the future of the group and to define the necessary guidelines.
A business forum will be held on the sidelines of the summit. Companies from developed and developing countries will share their new and innovative ideas and practical solutions, and avail themselves of the occasion to develop new partnerships.
ACP member states are Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo Republic, the DRC, Cooks Islands, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.