ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe will, early next month, attend the United Nations (UN) international climate talks (Cop 21) in Paris despite being banned from travelling to Europe.
Some western countries are also understood to have opposed the French decision to invite the Zimbabwean leader.
The European Union (EU) has since lifted most of its sanctions against Harare but maintained a travel ban against Mugabe and his wife Grace.
France will host the annual climate talks from November 30 to December in 11 in Paris and authorities have confirmed the meetings will go ahead despite last week’s terror attacks which claimed more than 120 lives.
Mugabe’s travel ban does not affect meetings of the UN and French ambassador to Zimbabwe, Laurent Delahousse, confirmed the veteran leader had accepted an invitation to the Paris conference.
President Mugabe’s acceptance of our invitation shows the country’s commitment to ending poverty and improving relations, said Delahousse.
He was addressing delegates to a two-day National Climate Change Response Strategy conference in Harare Thursday.
The envoy conceded that there had been opposition to Mugabe’s invitation from countries such as Britain, Sweden, Germany, United States of America and the Netherlands.
Mugabe, in power since independence 35 years ago, remains a pariah in the West, accused of gross human rights abuses and electoral fraud.
The Zanu PF leader rejects the charges, arguing he is persecuted for his black empowerment agenda which has seen farm land taken from a handful of white farmers to hundreds of thousands of poor blacks.
Currently chairman of the African Union, Mugabe recently attended the G-20 meeting of the world’s advanced countries.
Before that he had also attended the India-Africa forum in New Delhi as part of what has been a hectic foreign travel schedule this year.