In a move meant to ease growing tensions between Harare and Washington, the United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, has reached out to Washington for an explanation on the alleged mistreatment of Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York last month.
Relations between Harare and Washington soured after Mumbengegwi was allegedly not given diplomatic treatment accorded to ministers at J.F Kennedy International Airport as he was subjected to “intense body search.”
The incident prompted Harare to protest and summon Ambassador Wharton. U.S diplomatic officials confirmed the summoning of Wharton and said they are still waiting for further instructions from Washington and will release a statement soon.
But government sources say Harare is also fuming after the United States wrote a letter to President Robert Mugabe and his entourage warning them not to stray beyond a 25-mile radius of New York during the U.N General Assembly.
This infuriated aides who accused the United States of harassment. Under U.S sanctions, Mr. Mugabe and his inner circle are barred from travelling to the United States but can attend U.N meetings.
The United States’ refusal to endorse Zimbabwe’s July elections has also been a source of friction between the two nations.
In his speech at the U.N meeting, Mr. Mugabe attacked America and Britain, prompting United States diplomats to walk out.
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Joey Bimha, confirmed the meeting with Wharton and his appeal for further consultations.