Mugabe an iconic figure, says British envoy

Cape Town – Britain's new ambassador to Zimbabwe, Catriona Laing, says the southern African country's president Robert Mugabe is an iconic figure, revealing her excitement after she met the veteran leader in person in Harare.

Laing, who recently presented her credentials to Mugabe at State House, told the country's state-owned Herald that Mugabe was one of the few African leaders who was well known in her country.

Watch the video below as Laing speaks about Mugabe.

"Obviously he’s an iconic figure. He is one of the few presidents in an African country whose name will be known in our country and in most countries, maybe because he has been in power for a long time," said Laing.

This come a few weeks after Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov also hailed Mugabe as an "African legend and historic figure".

"Everyone has heard about him. I’ve read about him. So it was interesting to meet him in person," said Laing.

Laing said she had a constructive meeting with Mugabe, 90, adding that she found him willing to listen and to normalise relations with London..

"He gave me a signal that where have differences, we can have a mature dialogue," said Laing.

Diplomatic ties between Britain and Zimbabwe have been fractious for over a decade now following the launch of a controversial land reform programme by Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party. The programme saw thousands of white farmers being evicted from their farms.

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