The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Cordial Relations With Equatorial Guinea Grow

President Mugabe met his Equatorial Guinea counterpart President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo on the sidelines of the 7th Heads of State and Government Summit that ended in Malabo yesterday to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries.

The meeting was held at the Sipopo International Conference Centre.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces told reporters after the meeting that the two countries enjoyed cordial relations. He said the relationship scaled to greater levels after Zimbabwe intercepted a group of mercenaries that wanted to overthrow President Mbasogo's government in 2004.

"When a country is hosting a Summit, it has a double function - that of hosting the summit and it goes into bilateral relations with individual countries that are attending the summit.

"In our case we came here with that double function in mind. Equatorial Guinea is a great friend of Zimbabwe. The friendship got closer when we happen to get to know that there was a group of mercenaries heading to overthrow the Head of State you saw because Equatorial Guinea discovered lots of oil. The mercenaries decide to stop in Zimbabwe to get guns. They talk to our people and they think they will get guns in Zimbabwe.

Of course guns were there, but we gave them handcuffs.

"They (mercenaries) were led by a British called Simon Mann. The people of Equatorial Guinea were over joyous that we managed to protect and defend them by arresting these mercenaries.

"That started the good relationship that we have. We are very close and we share ideas," he said.

The two countries, President Mugabe said, were working together in various areas of development. He said Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made was in Equatorial Guinea recently discussing areas of co-operation in the agriculture sector.

"That is the nature of our co-operation. We are co-operating in a number of fields. Our Minister of Agriculture was here two months ago . . . The First Lady was also here a month ago. She was invited by her counterpart, so we are very close," said President Mugabe.

President Mugabe said Zimbabwe was also training security officials from Equatorial Guinea. In March 2004, Zimbabwe intercepted a group of mercenaries at the Harare International Airport that wanted to oust the government of Equatorial Guinea.

The aim of the coup was to seize power in Malabo's government following the discovery of vast oil deposits. Efforts by Equatorial Guinea to prosecute some of the ringleaders of the coup in Spain, United Kingdom and the United States of America failed.

This is despite that international law provides sanctions against complicity in terrorist acts such as crime against humanity.

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