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Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe President, In Rome For Papal Mass, Says State Radio

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, delivers his speech, at the funeral of Deputy President John Nkomo, at the Heroes Acre, in Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, Jan, 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi) | AP

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- State radio in Zimbabwe says President Robert Mugabe has arrived in Rome for the inaugural mass of newly-elected Pope Francis.

Mugabe is the subject of a travel ban by European nations to protest his human rights record in a decade of political and economic turmoil in his southern African nation, but it does not affect his trips to the Vatican through Italy or United Nations meetings elsewhere.

A practicing Catholic, Mugabe, 89, joined world leaders at the 2005 funeral of Pope John Paul II who visited Zimbabwe on an African pilgrimage in 1988. At the Pope's request then, Zimbabwe suspended criminal executions but hangings resumed nearly a decade later.

The radio said Pope Benedict XVI recently retired at age 85 `'for reasons of physical and mental health."

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