UNITED NATIONS - Fresh from a controversial victory over American and British efforts to impose U.N. Security Council sanctions, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe intends to head to New York City this September to attend the 2008 U.N. General Assembly.
"Yes, definitely he will come," Zimbabwe's U.N. Ambassador Boniface Chidyausiku told Newsmax.
Should Mugabe follow through, that would put him in the Big Apple the week of Sept. 23.
The controversial African leader might actually find some friends at the U.N. confab, as Newsmax has learned two key Mugabe supporters also intend to be in the city at the same time.
Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez are expected at the U.N.'s annual "debate."
They will be joined by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was pivotal in blunting Security Council efforts to impose sanctions when Russia joined with China to cast a highly unusual double veto last Friday.
On the other side: President Bush, France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's Gordon Brown are also expected at the U.N. the same week.
Washington and London had been seeking to punish Mugabe as reports from southern Africa confirmed that the longtime African dictator had indeed rigged a run-off election with his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai.
Fearing for his life, Tsvangirai remains secluded in the Belgian embassy in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.
In a highly unusual move, even U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon questioned the legitimacy of the recent Zimbabwe vote.
Showing no credible effort to engage in any real power sharing agreement, the U.S. and U.K. decided the Security Council needed to take action against Mugabe, only to be ambushed by Beijing and Moscow.
Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya told Newsmax that Mugabe should not take the Security Council vote as an endorsement of his election.
"We believe that negotiations with the opposition must continue," he said. "China feels that all sides must be represented in the government."
Wang insisted that had the council been allowed to impose new sanctions on Zimbabwe, "it would have hurt, not helped, negotiations between the government and the opposition."
Those sentiments were not echoed by the U.S., U.K. and French ambassadors, who together warned that Beijing and Moscow "must now shoulder" the responsibility for whatever happens next in the impoverished African nation.
None the ambassadors offered a reaction to Mugabe's planned trip to New York.
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