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Europe restore cooperation with Zimbabwe

By on September 10, 2009

A top-level Europe Union delegation will visit Zimbabwe on September 12-13 for meetings with government leaders, the first such talks in seven years, in a bid to restore aid and cooperation with the African state. The visit by EU Aid and Development Commissioner Karel De Gucht and the Swedish EU presidency is the first since the European Union began targeted sanctions in 2002 against members of President Robert Mugabe’s regime for human rights violations.

The delegation is expected to hold talks with all parties including Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutumbara, the EU’s executive European Commission said in a statement.

The visit follows a call by southern African heads of state to the international community to end sanctions on the impoverished country, which is buckling under the strain of a near economic meltdown and a disease outbreak.

But an EU official said the mission was intended to relaunch political dialogue and engagement between the 27-country bloc and Zimbabwe, not to lift the sanctions immediately.

“The joint EU mission aims to underline the urgent need for Zimbabwe’s unity government to fully implement the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in order for the EU to fully re-engage and restore its cooperation,” the Commission statement said.

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