The Southern African Development Community has extended its current diplomatic initiative to resolve the political deadlock in Zimbabwe to top US officials with whom representatives of the regional body met last week in Washington, sources say.
The sources said a SADC delegation including officials from its secretariat, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia met with US officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, the Treasury and the Agency for International Development.
They included the top US diplomat for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, Special Assistant to the President Mary Yates, and Deputy Secretary of State for Africa Andy Baukol, the sources said.
Leading the SADC delegation was Tuliamani Kalomoh, special adviser to Namibia's minister of foreign affairs, and Lindiwe Zulu, a foreign policy adviser to South African President Jacob Zuma, SADC's mediator in Harare since 2009.
The State Department issued a brief statement saying the United States affirmed the importance of SADC's role as guarantor of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing, and lauded the regional body’s call for a road-map to Zimbabwean elections.
Carson expressed concern over the recent rise in politically motivated arrests, harassment, intimidation and violence in Zimbabwe.
Rugare Gumbo, spokesman for the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that SADC can meet with whomever it wants, but must not seek to impose foreign solutions on Harare.
Gumbo added that the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, rather than ZANU-PF, was responsible for political violence.
But newly elected MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said Gumbo was merely spinning the pro-democracy implications of the US-SADC discussions.
Political analyst Trevor Maisiri says ZANU-PF is headed for a clash with SADC.