Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai have shaken hands for the first time in ten years, after signing a deal laying down the framework for formal talks on building a power-sharing government for Zimbabwe.
Officials say the agreement, brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki, sets a two-week deadline for the government and opposition MDC to discuss key issues including the formation of a unity government and electoral policy.
Mugabe, however, refuses to renounce his zero tolerance policy towards the West.
“We cut off whatever were influences on us from Europe or the United States,” he said.
“We must act, if we have not done so before, now as Zimbabweans”
Tsvangirai, the winner in recent parliamentary elections, said he was committed to the concept of unity:.
“This is a collective effort, and it involves tolerance, compromise, putting the best interests of Zimbabwe at the forefront of these negotiations,” he said.
News of the deal comes after weeks of deadlock following the re-election of Mugabe in June in a widely condemned poll boycotted by Tsvangirai because of attacks on his supporters, allegedly by government supporters.
The opposition leader withdrew from the second round of the presidential election due to concerns over the poll-related violence.