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US, Europe Again Urge Harare to Reform to Normalize Relations, End Sanctions

Responding to comments this week by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, the US and European governments have repeated that the unity government in Harare must implement its 2008 power-sharing agreement in full before Western sanctions can be lifted.

President Mugabe told Parliament on Tuesday as it reopened that Harare is ready to re-engage the West, calling for an end to Western travel and financial restrictions.

But Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai meanwhile told Britain’s Sky News that some elements of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party are still blocking the new government's reform initiatives.

State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly told VOA on Wednesday that Washington wanted to see concrete action by Mr. Mugabe to demonstrate his commitment to re-engagement.

"We encourage Mr. Mugabe to show his commitment to positive relations with the U.S. by fully implementing the global political agreement which he signed in 2008, and take a number of steps to show this commitment," among them ending politically motivated prosecutions, seizures of white-owned farms and media censorship as well as replacing the current governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and attorney general.

Kelly said the U.S. government also urged Mr. Mugabe to publicly commit to the drafting of a new constitution and new elections under international supervision and monitoring.

"So, what we would like to see is some real concrete action, and I've just enumerated some of the steps he could take to show that he is committed to a new relationship with us" the State Department spokesman said.

President Mugabe said re-engagement with the European Union has gained momentum in the wake of last month’s visit by a delegation of senior EU officials.

But the ambassador in Harare for Sweden, current holder of the EU presidency, told VOA that little progress has been made. Sten Rylander heads an EU troika or working group formed to engage Harare, including the Czech ambassador and EU representative.

Zimbabwe is represented by Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwe, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube.

Rylander told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government’s failure to fully implement the GPA has hampered talks between Harare and Brussels.

Harare-based political analyst Charles Mangongera said that all partners in the government must embraced reform as change is not yet visible on the ground in Harare.

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