AU hopeful Zimbabwe rivals will sign talks deal Monday
African Union commission chief Jean Ping expressed his hope Sunday that Zimbabwe's ruling party and the opposition would sign a deal within 24 hours to begin fully-fledged talks.
Ping met President Robert Mugabe, opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) chief Morgan Tsvangirai and a separate MDC faction on Saturday to prop up efforts to solve the country's political crisis, an AU commission spokesman told AFP .
"He (Ping) is hopeful that a memorundum of understanding, which will outline the talks agenda and ground rules, will be signed tomorrow (Monday) with the MDC being part of it. Tsvangirai has given assurance of this," said Elghassim Wane.
The memorandum of understanding was to be signed last Wednesday, but Tsvangirai backed out as he pushed for other players to be brought into a mediation process led by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
The MDC and Mugabe's ZANU-PF began preliminary talks last week aimed at establishing a framework for substantive negotiations.
"Progress is definitely being made towards a resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe...," an AU official said on condition of anonymity.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Sunday told the BBC that Tsvangirai was willing to meet Mugabe in South Africa.
"He told me that his team will be going to Pretoria for these preliminary talks. Depending on how they progress, he's ready and willing to meet with Mr Mugabe out there in Pretoria."
Zimbabwe's political crisis deepened last month when Mugabe defied international calls to postpone a presidential run-off marred by widespread violence, and was predictably re-elected by a landslide.