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Concluding Brussels Talks, Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Heads For London

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday concluded meetings with European Union leaders, conferring with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

On Thursday Mr. Tsvangirai and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana launched re-engagement between Zimbabwe and the 27-country bloc under the Cotonou Agreement for trade and aid. The European union severed ties with Harare in 2002 and imposed targeted sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his senior officials citing gross human rights abuses.

Mr. Tsvangirai was due in London later Friday to begin a visit of several days during which he was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Prince Charles.

British Foreign Minister Mark Malloch-Brown wrote in the London Times that Britain will only lift sanctions when Zimbabwe's democratic transition reaches the “point of no return.”

Malloch-Brown, Britain's secretary for Africa, said it is time to show some faith in Harare and support the unity government. But British aid depends on whether President Mugabe adheres to the terms of the power-sharing agreement he signed in September 2008, he added.

London meanwhile signaled that it is ready to show some flexibility on sanctions by allowing a number of Zimbabwean ministers on the sanctions list to travel to the U.K.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, a member of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party who is on the British sanctions list, was granted a waiver so that he could travel to London.

Tsvangirai spokesman James Maridadi told VOA's Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that he was not discouraged by Malloch-Brown’s comments in the Times as he was confident that Mr. Tsvangirai during his visit would convince London to give Harare a chance.

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