Blair discusses Zimbabwe crisis with Mbeki

 

The British prime minister, Mr Tony Blair, has spoken to the South African leader Mr Thabo Mbeki about the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe.

"It is clearly deteriorating in a way that is giving everyone cause for concern," Mr Blair's spokesman said.

The talks come amid reports that Britain is deporting Zimbabwean asylum seekers back to their country to face death or torture at the hands of President Robert Mugabe's secret police.

Mr Blair insisted that anyone with a legitimate claim for asylum would stay - but those without would be sent back. Downing Street said the situation would be monitored closely but each case will be tested on its merits.

Reports claim members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are being arrested or attacked on their return to Zimbabwe.

Britain’s Refugee Council claimed people's lives were being put at risk because of government policy.