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Charles shakes hands with Mugabe
Prince Charles has shaken hands with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at the Pope's funeral.

BBC News | April 8, 2005

The prince was "caught by surprise" when Mr Mugabe leaned over to greet him, Clarence House said.

Mr Mugabe sidestepped a European Union travel ban to attend the funeral service in the Vatican.

Opponents condemned his presence at the service as an insult, with one Euro MP describing it as a "flagrant breach of the EU travel ban".

'Abhorrent' regime

Prince Charles was seated one place away from the Zimbabwean President.

A Clarence House spokesman said the prince "finds the current Zimbabwean regime abhorrent" and "was not in a position to avoid shaking Mr Mugabe's hand".

The spokesman added: "He has supported the Zimbabwe Defence and Aid Fund which works with those being oppressed by the regime.

This is yet another failure of the establishment...to be sensitive enough about how to respond to this man
Glenys Kinnock MEP

"The prince also recently met Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, an outspoken critic of the government."

A Foreign Office spokesman said seating arrangements at the funeral were made by the Vatican.

Labour MEP Glenys Kinnock, who has called for the EU to get tougher with the Mugabe regime, said shaking his hand was not "sensible".

She added: "I am sure that by now Prince Charles regrets shaking Mugabe's hand.

"However, this is yet another failure of the establishment, of people with power and responsibility in the international community, to be sensitive enough about how to respond to this man."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was also criticised when he shook hands with Mugabe at a United Nations summit in New York last year.

Mr Straw defended his actions saying the serious disagreement between the two countries did not justify being "discourteous or rude".

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