au chairman In zimBABWE TALKS

ADDIS ABABA - The chairman of the African Union's executive, Jean Ping, was in Harare yesterday for talks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on the country's electoral crisis, diplomats told AFP.

ADDIS ABABA - The chairman of the African Union's executive, Jean Ping, was in Harare yesterday for talks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on the country's electoral crisis, diplomats told AFP.

"The chairman and his delegation arrived on Sunday in Harare." an African diplomat in Addis Ababa said on condition of anonymity.

"The specifics of their schedule are not yet known but it appears they should be seeing President Mugabe today."

The AU headquarters is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

South African President Thabo Mbeki spoke with Ping, the newly elected chairman of the AU commission, over the weekend and offered him the use of a specially chartered plane, another diplomat said.

Ping's visit to Harare comes amid pressing calls from the US for increased AU involvement in the Zimbabwean electoral crisis.

African countries have been divided over Zimbabwe, which has been mired in a bitter dispute since March 29 general polls.

Results released after five tense weeks indicate a run-off is needed between Mugabe and MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, but the opposition leader maintains he won outright in the first round.

The opposition leader has decided whether he will participate in a presidential run-off, but won't make his choice public until electoral officials set an election date, an aide said yesterday. - Sapa-AP

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