Mugabe to attend Pope John Paul's beatification

Fri Apr 29, 2011 7:55pm GMT

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will attend Sunday's beatification ceremony for the late Pope John Paul, the Vatican said.

Mugabe, who has been widely criticised for human rights abuses in his country, is banned from travel to the European Union, but the Vatican -- a sovereign state -- is not a member of the bloc.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Friday Mugabe was on the list of world leaders who have confirmed their presence.

The leader of any country that has diplomatic relations with the Vatican can attend Vatican events.

Mugabe will travel through Rome, but pacts between the Italian state and the Vatican stipulate that people heading to the Vatican cannot be impeded.

Mugabe, a Catholic, also attended John Paul's funeral in 2005 -- where he shook hands with Britain's Prince Charles -- and came to Rome in 2008 for a United Nations food summit.

<p>Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe leaves the Rainbow Towers hotel in Harare, January 20, 2009. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo</p>
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