Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe was among the first to arrive at a reception on the eve of the Europe-African Union summit in Lisbon. The current European Union President Portugal has promised there will be no taboo subjects.
Mugabe was greeted briefly by host Prime Minister Jose Socrates. Then came Algerian President Abdel Aziz Bouteflicka.
With Mugabe attending, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is boycotting the meeting. However, most EU leaders have argued that rather than miss the summit, it is better to criticise Mugabe’s record on human rights to his face.
The 73 leaders from the world’s largest trading bloc and its poorest continent aim to create fresh partnerships.
The participants have agreed to concentrate on several major areas this Saturday and Sunday:
Security, democracy, trade and development, climate change and energy, and jobs and migration.
The welcome party was held at the 1998 Lisbon Expo site, now called Nations Park.