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China welcomes Zimbabwe deal on talks to end crisis
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China appreciates and welcomes the deal signed by Zimbabwe's ruling and opposition parties, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Tuesday.

"This is the fruit of the joint efforts of all concerned parties from Zimbabwe," Liu told a regular press conference.

Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF and the two opposition factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Monday signed the deal, paving the way for formal talks to end a political crisis.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU), signed between President and ZANU-PF leader Robert Mugabe and the leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, envisaged that the dialogue will be completed within two weeks from the signing date.

Liu said the MOU "indicates that all concerned parties of Zimbabwe are devoted to properly resolving disputes in a peaceful way."

China sincerely hopes that concerned parties in Zimbabwe will value the interests of the nation and all people and continue to show sincerity and flexibility during the negotiations, Liu said.

Liu hoped that the concerned parties would reach a settlement in accord with public opinion and the political situation of Zimbabwe at an early date.

China would continue its support for the mediation efforts of the Southern African Development Community and the African Union on the Zimbabwe issue, Liu noted.

Mugabe was declared the winner of the June 27 presidential run-off by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, a result rejected by Tsvangirai, who received a leading number of votes in the first round of polls but failed to obtain an absolute majority.

Tsvangirai boycotted the run-off, citing various causes, including political violence.

China and Russia vetoed a U.S.-drafted resolution in the UN Security Council earlier this month that would impose sanctions on Zimbabwe over the country's presidential run-off election.

South Africa, Libya and Vietnam also voted against the draft.

(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2008)

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