Malawi, Britain to normalise relations -Peter Mutharika

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mutharika on Monday returned from a trip in London and expressed the hope that Britain and Malawi will normalise their diplomatic relations at a later stage.

Peter, President Bingu wa Mutharika’s young brother and heir apparent, led a high powered Malawi delegation to London to discuss with Britain Foreign Secretary William Hague on the strains in their relations caused by the expulsion of High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet in April for criticising the president.

After the talks last Wednesday, Britain said it will not resume normal diplomatic relations with Malawi until the Mutharika administration accepts responsibility for expelling Britain’s ambassador.

Peter Mutharika: Its a process

Hague also told Mutharika and the delegation that a suspension in budgetary aid would continue until Malawi tackled serious concerns over economic management, governance and human rights.

But speaking to reporters on arrival, Malawi Foreign Minister said he was pleased that the government delegation met the British officials to start “negotiation process.”

“This is a process. We have set up mechanism,” said the young Mutharika.

“We do not expect to resolve all these issues between the United Kingdom and Malawi within one hour. That was never the intention. The intention was to start the process of negotiation,” he said.

Mutharika said there is no fixed time to normalise the relations with Britain.

“We avoided bringing a specific time table because you know how these things go,” he said.

“I hope that within a reasonable time we will be able to normalise these relations,” said Mutharika.

Mutharika was  accompanied by Energy Minister Goodall Gondwe, Education Minister George Chaponda and Deputy Minister in the Office of President and Cabinet Nicholas Dausi.

Malawi has since withdrawn its expulsion of Britain’s envoy but has not apologised.

Gondwe however pointed out that Britain officials “didn’t insist or tell us that we fall down and kiss the ground to apologise.”

The tour also took Malawi’s Foreign Minister to United States of America where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly and after UK he flew to Brussels for discussions with the EU.

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