|3. November 2014
Mugabe in Austria
President Mugabe arrived in Vienna yesterday morning ahead of the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) which gets underway today.
The President, who is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, touched down in thick fog at the Vienna International Airport and was received by Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Austria, Grace Mutandiro, and Austrian government officials.
The conference, which brings together participants from the governments of LLDCs, transit developing countries and donor countries, the UN and other international organisations, was first held in Almaty, Uzbekistan, in 2003.
The LCCDs are seeking solutions to difficulties faced by developing countries without access to the sea, mainly high transport costs, which have become a barrier to international trade.
President Mugabe will join the leaders and representatives of the 31 countries that are members of the UN group as they shape the new development agenda for the landlocked developing countries for the next decade.
He is scheduled to deliver his keynote speech at the conference on Tuesday. Today, President Mugabe will give a brief “national statement”, and will share the stage with Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma, who is also the present chair of the G77+China, as well the Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili, among others.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer will open the conference.
In their deliberations during the three-day forum, which ends on Wednesday, the leaders will assess the state of the global commitment to addressing the special needs of landlocked developing countries, with a special focus on infrastructure development, transit and trade facilitation to reduce prohibitive transport costs and enable those countries to fully participate in the global trade.
President Mugabe is banned from travelling to Europe as part of a raft of economic and other sanctions imposed by the bloc in 2002 after Zimbabwe took land from white settlers to give to landless blacks, but he is free to attend United Nations events on European soil.
(The Herald, Harare)