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EU Diplomat Tells Zimbabwe's Mugabe Sanctions Removal Linked to Reform

Reports said President Robert Mugabe told Managing Director for Africa Nicholas Westcott of the European External Action Services that Europe should stop lecturing Zimbabwe about democracy and elections

The European Union’s top diplomat for Africa on Tuesday urged the Zimbabwean government to fully implement the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing as a condition for lifting travel and financial sanctions targeting President Robert Mugabe and many other senior figures of the former ruling party.

Concluding a two-day visit to Harare, Managing Director for Africa Nicholas Westcott of the European External Action Services told reporters at the EU Delegation's offices that fulfilling the terms of the GPA is essential for Europe to lift its sanctions.

The envoy said the EU was prepared to work with any Zimbabwean leader elected in a free and fair election.

Responding to Mr. Mugabe’s recent statement that Harare would not welcome EU observers to monitor the elections expected next year unless the sanctions were lifted, Westcott said the EU saw no reason why the international community should be barred if the elections are credible, noting that many African nations invited observers.

The envoy also took up the controversial topic of diamonds from Zimbabwe's Marange field in the east of the country, saying Europe expected greater transparency in the management of the resource. He added that human rights should be respected in the diamond mining in particular those of residents of the Chiadzwa communal area.

In a meeting with Mugabe, Westcott is said to have taken up bilateral issues stressing the EU's intention to re-engage the Harare administration. Reports said Mr. Mugabe told Westcott that Europe should stop lecturing Zimbabwe about democracy and elections.

He also met with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Health Minister Henry Madzorera, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu and civil society representatives.

During his visit the EU announced a $14 million grant for essential medicines to be managed by the United Nations Children’s Fund. Westcott promised that the EU would continue to support Zimbabwe’s still-recovering health care sector.

Political analyst Effie Dlela Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that EU sanctions should remain in place until President Mugabe agrees to all democratic reforms required to ensure free and fair elections.

Meanwhile, U.S Ambassador Charles Ray met with Mr. Mugabe in Harare in a one-hour meeting he described on his Facebook page as a “pleasant chat,” with no “rants.”

He described Mugabe as, “mentally alert and engaging.”

The U.S embassy later issued a statement saying Ray stressed that Washington wanted to “turn a new page” in relations between the countries and to engage in areas where greater US-Zimbabwean cooperation will benefit the country's people.

The statement said Ray highlighted US support for programs enabling rural families to gain a livelihood through agriculture, and renewed attention to tourism and trade.

Ray told the president that the US embassy would support a delegation of Zimbabwean business people to the US Corporate Council on Africa’s forthcoming summit.

Responding to a Facebook user who asked if their chat touched on recent leaks of US diplomatic cables by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, Ray said it had not.

One of the cables released by Wikileaks quoted Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono as saying Mr. Mugabe had prostate cancer and might not live past 2013.

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