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Secretary Clinton Commends Zimbabwe Progress


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered praise for Zimbabwe's unity government Saturday in a message marking the 29th anniversary of the African nation's independence from Britain.

Clinton said the United States commends the transitional government's efforts and the "progress it has achieved toward reforms that will benefit the Zimbabwean people."

Since the power-sharing government was created in February, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister and former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai have pledged to work together to confront their country's extreme poverty, collapsed institutions and chronic food shortages.

In a unique display of unity Saturday, Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai attended independence day celebrations together for the first time.

At the national stadium in the capital Harare, Mr. Mugabe called for "national healing," an "environment of tolerance" and an end to instances of violence, which he said have caused "untold harm" to individuals and communities.

President Mugabe repeated his call to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe, but his message was much different from years past in which he has attacked Western nations and the political opposition. Mr. Mugabe has held onto power since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, and frequently had his opponents beaten and jailed until agreeing to share power in February.

The U.S. State Department disclosed Friday that it had canceled its travel warning for Zimbabwe, but officials say sanctions will remain in place until they see clear signs the new unity government is respecting human rights.

Conditions in Zimbabwe have grown calmer since the unity government was created, but there are still many unresolved issues.

Zimbabwe endured months of violence and turmoil last year both before and after disputed presidential elections. The situation was made worse by food shortages, hyperinflation and the breakdown of the health care system.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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