From: Reuters
Published April 24, 2008 06:19 AM

Too early for Zimbabwe arms embargo: S.Africa's Zuma

LONDON (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling party leader Jacob Zuma said on Thursday it was not yet time to impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

Zuma, who has become the most outspoken African leader on Zimbabwe, was in London holding talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, one of the harshest critics of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

Britain wants an arms embargo to prevent the flow of arms into the country which is in a political stalemate after its March 29 presidential election.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has claimed victory, but no official results have been released and the outcome of a parliamentary poll is also in doubt because of partial recounts.

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"I don't think we have reached the stage for arms embargo, I think it is going too far and I think it complicates a situation that needs to be handled with great care," Zuma said told a press briefing.

Last week South African port workers refused to unload a Chinese ship carrying arms to land-locked Zimbabwe because they were concerned Mugabe's government might use them against his opponents.

China said on Thursday the shipment would be recalled after the port workers' refusal and after the governments of Mozambique and Angola said the vessel would not be allowed in their waters.

The European Union already has an arms embargo against Zimbabwe, part of sanctions in place since 2002. The embargo bars the 27 EU states from supplying arms or equipment intended for military operations.

Washington has also imposed sanctions on Harare.

(Reporting by Matthew Tostevin; Writing by Matthew Jones; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia)

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/)

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