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Dutch PM to Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai: No Budget Support Without Reform

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe arrived in Washington late Monday following a two-day stop in the Netherlands where he launched a three-week diplomatic tour of Europe and the United States seeking to re-engage the West and drum up financial support.

Shortly before his departure from the Netherlands, Mr. Tsvangirai met with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. Netherlands radio quoted Mr. Balkenende as saying he was confident Mr. Tsvangirai was doing his utmost to raise up Zimbabwe - but that the Hague won't support the Harare government financially until it institutes reforms on a range of issues.

Mr. Tsvangirai played down the aid question and emphasized he was there to mend relations between the governments after years of acrimony between Harare and the West.

Even as Mr. Tsvangirai was wrapping up his Netherlands visit, it emerged that the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa or Comesa, meeting in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, had urged the United Nations to suspend the arrest warrant issued for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, this following President Robert Mugabe's assumption of the Comesa chair.

Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube, secretary general of a rival formation of the Movement for Democratic Change which Mr. Tsvangirai founded a decade ago, told VOA that the Comesa appeal to the U.N. was "not support for al-Bashir, this is support for peace" by encouraging continued dialogue among all parties to the Sudanese conflict.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, meanwhile, urged Western countries to support Mr. Tsvangirai's government. He told reporters in Nairobi that the best way to see off President Mugabe was to empower Mr. Tsvangirai in the realization of his democratic aims.

London-based political analyst Msekiwa Makwanya told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that to obtain budget assistance from the West, Harare must simply adhere to the terms of the September 2008 power-sharing agreement.

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