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Mbeki Coup
16/7/2003
 
 

The visit by US President George W. Bush to South Africa was a major diplomatic coup for President Thabo Mbeki, firmly positioning him as one of the most prominent leaders in Africa, according to local papers.

Bush met Mbeki  in the South African capital Pretoria on the third of his five-country tour of the continent, publicly endorsing Mbeki's stance on Zimbabwe and gave his support to African initiatives.

"The visit this week by Bush was a major diplomatic coup for Mbeki, who gained support for his stance on Zimbabwe," the influential Johannesburg-based daily The Star said in an editorial.

Added Business Day, also based in Johannesburg: "The abiding impression that remains following Bush's visit to South Africa is of a growing, if not intimate, friendship and trust between himself and President Thabo Mbeki."

"Bush's endorsement of Mbeki's leadership in Africa was effusive and clearly elevates the South African leader to a key reference for the US president in world affairs,˛ the editorial continues.

It added however: "Of course, some of this comes at a price. While Bush was happy to endorse Mbekišs quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe, there will now be significant pressure on Mbeki to  deliver in this regard."

Afrikaans daily Beeld agreed the support from Bush on Zimbabwe, wracked by a political and economic crisis, was an important victory for Mbeki's policy of so-called "quiet diplomacy."

"The trust Bush puts in Mbeki will be fundemental for the continual success of negotiated settlements not only in Zimbabwe, but also for other flashpoints on the African continent."

"It was important though to remember that Africans must solve Africa's problems. Solutions which may carry the perception that it had been devised and enforced by the US or Europe, will eventually fail."

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