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Zimbabwe PM Tsvangirai Says Latest US Visit Clarified Bilateral Views on Unity Gov't

A focus of Tsvangirai's talks with Clinton, US senators and other officials was legislation pending to amend the Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act of 2001 to add flexibility to sanctions to help move the country forward

The United States government has expressed concern at the failure of the three Zimbabwean political parties sharing power in a unity government since early 2009 to fully implement their 2008 power sharing agreement and put in place reforms necessary to restore democracy and rebuild the country, said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

In an interview in Washington at the end of a three-day visit to the U.S. capital, Mr Tsvangirai told VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that top U.S. officials clarified the American position on Zimbabwe's progress and shortcomings. He met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and prominent senators including Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“We had a meeting with Hillary Clinton and (Assistant Secretary of State for Africa) Johhny Carson, largely to talk about what our evaluation of events in Zimbabwe is, what are the implications of the new legislative initiative by Senator (Russ) Feingold and others, what can the U.S. do more than it was doing before,” Tsvangirai said.

“There is an understanding that the US is very clear that implementation of the GPA and other visible reforms on the ground will help even the most skeptic to come forward and help Zimbabwe," the prime minister said.

A focus of talks with Clinton, the senators and other officials was legislation pending in the Senate to amend the Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act of 2001, the basis for sanctions targeting on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle. The legislation would increase flexibility in how sanctions are applied in order to support reform-minded elements in the inclusive government and boost the ongoing democratic transition in Harare.

But American officials made clear that sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and other top ZANU-PF figures would stay in place until the GPA is fully implemented by all its signatories, Tsvangirai said.

Clinton brought up the question of the diamonds coming out of the controversial Marange field, urging Mr. Tsvangirai to study Botswana’s model of managing such resources which she said was one of the best in the world. The new bipartisan legislation on Capitol Hill focuses on diamonds too, threatening to impose sanctions on those believed to be involved in shady diamond deals along with ZANU-PF hardliners deemed to be obstructing fulfillment of the GPA.

Mr Tsvangirai, who departed for Harare late Tuesday, said he considered his visit a success as it allowed him to clarify points on which Harare and Washington disagreed as to the situation in the inclusive government.

On Wednesday in South Africa, meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma told his Parliament that while differences remain between ZANU-PF and the MDC, he as mediator in Harare on behalf of the Southern African Development Community remains optimistic on the prospects for resolution of the many outstanding issues causing divisions.

Mr. Zuma said he and his facilitators are examining proposals on how to unblock the impasse within the Harare unity government, and he will be making a report to SADC soon on the status of the extended talks.

South African and European ministers meeting in Brussels for a political dialog issued a joint statement this week urged the three parties in Harare to fully implement the Global Political Agreement and the reforms it outlines.

Political commentator Mandlenkosi Gatsheni told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the ruling partners in Harare must find a way to resolve their differences and move the country forward.