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Obama & Tsvangirai To Discuss Zimbabwe's 'Difficult Road Ahead'

Though the White House has confirmed that U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Friday with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday to discuss “the difficult road ahead,” a senior U.S. diplomat said there could be no major funding for Mr. Tsvangirai's troubled national unity government without further reform.

The White House statement confirming Mr. Obama will meet with Mr. Tsvangirai during his current Washington visit declared that the Zimbabwean leader has been "working against the odds to secure a stable democratic future for the people" of his country.

But U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson told Reuters that the American government wants to see change on human rights and the rule of law before providing “substantial aid” to Harare other than humanitarian assistance, or considering and end to the targeted sanctions it has had in place for much of the past decade.

Carson said Washington won’t lift travel or financial sanctions against those most responsible for undermining Zimbabwe’s democracy and destroying its economy.

Indirectly referring to president Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, Carson said "political concessions" must be made and all parties must adhere to the terms of the power-sharing agreement signed in September 2008 with the government formed five months later.

He said Washington wants to see an end to harassment by loyalists of President Robert Mugabe of members of Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and civic activists, and restrictions on journalists - domestic and foreign - lifted, among other reforms.

Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy studies in Washington told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Carson’s remarks show the U.S. administration has not shifted policy from its predecessor.

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