President Barack Obama is promising $73 Million in U.S. aid to the
people of Zimbabwe. The president made the pledge Friday, after meeting with Zimbabwe's
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the Oval Office.
Obama says the U.S. assistance will go directly to the people of
Zimbabwe because Washington believes that President Robert Mugabe does
not always act in the interest of Zimbabwe's people.
But after meeting with Prime Minister Tsvangirai, Mr. Obama told reporters there is reason for hope.
obviously, have extraordinary admiration for the courage, the tenacity
that the prime minister has shown in navigating through some very
difficult political times in Zimbabwe," he said.
suffered through several years of rampant inflation and economic
struggles. Mr. Obama praised the prime minister for working hard to
overcome those problems.
The president also saluted Mr.
Tsvangirai for persevering despite being harassed for his opposition to
the Mugabe government. After last year's disputed elections, Mr.
Mugabe invited him to join a unity government in February.
want to do everything we can to encourage the kinds of improvement, not
only on human rights and rule of law, freedom of the press and
democracy, that is so necessary, but also on the economic front," he
Mr. Obama said the U.S. is trying to encourage human
rights and the rule of law in Zimbabwe, along with working schools,
health care and an agricultural system that can help the country feed
Mr. Tsvangirai expressed gratitude for Western aid
to Zimbabwe, and said the country is committed to meeting international
benchmarks for progress.
"We want to institute those reforms
that will ensure that in 18 months' time, the people of Zimbabwe are
given an opportunity to elect their own government. Yes, there has
been a lot of progress made by the transitional government, but there
are also problems," he said.
The U.S. and other countries accuse
Mr. Mugabe of abusing human rights and destroying Zimbabwe's economy,
as well as seizing commercial farms owned by whites.
Mr. Mugabe has held power in Zimbabwe since 1980.