Zimbabwean minister is barred from Britain

HARARE - Britain has denied Zimbabwe's mines minister a visa for an investment conference, fuelling anger in President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party over continued Western sanctions against its officials.

HARARE - Britain has denied Zimbabwe's mines minister a visa for an investment conference, fuelling anger in President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party over continued Western sanctions against its officials.

Mugabe formed a unity government in February with arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, to try to end an economic and political crisis worsened by a disputed presidential poll.

Tsvangirai was in London as part of a Western tour to drum up financial support for Zimbabwe's new government.

But yesterday, a Harare government official said Britain had refused mines and mining development minister Obert Mpofu a visa - under European Union travel sanctions against Mugabe and his top associates.

Mpofu had wanted to travel to London to address a conference on investment opportunities in Zimbabwe .

A representative of the Zimbabwean High Commission in London said he had been excluded because he was on the banned list as a member of Mugabe's circle.

"They are trying to undermine the inclusive government with this sort of attitude," a Harare government official said.

Britain pledged R66million to Zimbabwe on Monday but made clear more reforms were needed before it would start large-scale development aid to the shattered country. UK prime minister Gordon Brown told Tsvangirai there were "great signs of progress."

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