PM arrives in New Zealand

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Lifting New Zealand sanctions on Zimbabwe will be at the top of the agenda when Prime Minister John Key meets his Zimbabwean counterpart Morgan Tsvangirai today.

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Tsvangirai was a leading democracy advocate in Zimbabwean politics and is on a whistlestop tour of New Zealand and Australia.

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The sanctions were put in place in 2002 to protest against human rights abuses carried out under the reign of President Robert Mugabe.

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Key says the power-sharing arrangement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai is a major leap forward and he is open to the idea of lifting at least some of the sanctions.

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He and Tsvangirai will have a half-hour meeting at lunchtime followed by a news conference.

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The meeting comes after news that another African leader, Ghana’s President John Atta Mills, who won international praise as leader of a stable model democracy in Africa, died suddenly overnight.

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Mills was 68.

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The unexpected death of the leader of the West African oil, gold and cocoa producer comes months before he was due to stand for re-election in December.

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He will be succeeded by his vice-president John Dramani Mahama, officials said.

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Ghana started pumping oil in 2010 and posted double-digit growth in 2011, burnishing its image as an increasingly attractive investment destination on the continent.

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It was praised for its healthy democracy.

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