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US State Officials Brief American Diamond Dealers on Zimbabwe Export Issue

Critics say the Kimberley Process has always been focused on so-called “blood diamond” sales by rebel groups seeking to topple legitimate governments, and is therefore less comfortable tackling alleged state human rights abuses

The U.S. State Department, which last week rebuffed a request by Zimbabwean officials to review American sanctions, held a consultative meeting Tuesday with American diamond dealers to explain its stance on blocking exports of rough diamonds from the country's Marange zone ahead of a key Kimberley Process meeting.

Washington has opposed diamond exports from Marange although the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme has certified Marange diamonds that were auctioned in August and September under its supervision.

The State Department meeting examined ways in which Kimberley Process criteria for certification might be updated.

Critics say the Kimberley organization pays too little attention to human rights in certifying diamonds, as in Marange. It has since its inception focused on so-called “blood diamond” sales by insurgent groups seeking to topple legitimate governments. It has been less comfortable tackling alleged alleged state human rights abuses in Marange.

World Diamond Council President Eli Izhakoff, who participated in the State Department meeting, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that U.S. officials and diamond dealers are waiting to read the Kimberley Process review mission report on Zimbabwe and the Marange diamond field before making up their minds.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu told VOA that countries and organizations still seeking to block Marange diamond exports have other reasons for doing so as Harare has done all that it was asked to do by the Kimberley Process.

Political analyst Joy Mabenge commented that the meeting in Washington showed that there is still discord around the world on whether diamonds from the Marange alluvial field in eastern Zimbabwe are truly untainted.

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