Regional leaders start summit on bitter differences over Zimbabwe polls set for end of July

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Regional presidents have begun a special summit on Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe set crucial elections for the end of July.

Officials said South Africa President Jacob Zuma has started closed-door talks with Mugabe, Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and other regional leaders in Maputo. Zuma is the chief mediator on Zimbabwe for the Southern Africa Development Community, a political and economic bloc.

Tsvangirai, in a shaky coalition with Mugabe, says democratic reforms demanded in a new constitution and by mediators ensuring free and fair polls cannot be completed by July.

Zuma said Saturday the leaders will consider "a roadmap" to elections in Zimbabwe. But a top Mugabe party official told South African state radio the summit will only seek financial help from the region to fund polls in July.