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U.S. Hosts Annual Kimberley Process Meeting

The United States is hosting the annual Kimberley Process plenary meeting that opened Tuesday in Washington DC to discuss the mining and selling of diamonds worldwide.

Top on the agenda is the issue of the definition of the term blood or conflict diamonds which the U.S wants changed to incorporate rights abuses by governments and not only rebels seeking to oust elected governments as is currently the case.

Asian and some African countries, including Zimbabwe, have voiced concern over the American proposal.

The meeting will also discuss administrative mechanisms in the KP, review the process, laws and procedures, artisan and alluvial production, statistics and other topics related to diamond production.

The Kimberley Process is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative designed to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebels to finance wars against legitimate governments.

Zimbabwe is represented at the meeting by Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, several state officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

Tafadzwa Musarara, chairman of Resources Exploitation Watch, said Zimbabwe would veto any attempts by the U.S to change the definition of conflict diamond.

Farai Maguwu, director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, said non-governmental organisations want the Kimberley Process to ensure that independent groups continue monitoring activities in diamond mining countries without fear.

He said it is likely that there won’t be any consensus on reforms in the KP at the present moment as some African and Asian states are against the redefinition of the term blood diamond.