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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Meets Top U.S. Africa Envoy on AU Summit Sidelines

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe met Thursday on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Libya with the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, Zimbabwean state media and wire services reported.

It was Mr. Mugabe's first meeting with a senior U.S. official in some years.

Few details of the meeting in the Mediterranean city have been disclosed. But in an interview before the meeting, Carson said Washington will not lift sanctions against Mr. Mugabe and members of his inner circle until irreversible change in Zimbabwe is confirmed.

Such changes include full implementation of the September 2008 Global Political Agreement underpinning the current power-sharing government in Harare, opening-up to international media to cover the country, a lifting of restrictions on domestic media, and an end to the harassment of political opponents and human rights activists by authorities.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper said Mr. Mugabe briefed Carson on the so-called inclusive government he formed in February with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who visited Washington last month and met with President Barack Obama.

London-based political analyst Brilliant Mhlanga told reporter Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the meeting between Mr. Mugabe and Carson confirmed a thaw in bilateral relations between Harare and Washington.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...