Senior European Union officials are heading to Zimbabwe for the first
high-level visit between the EU and the southern African nation in
seven years. But the EU has
ruled out lifting sanctions against Zimbabwe for now.
Union Aid Commissioner Kerel De Gucht and International Development
Cooperation Minister Gunilla Carlsson of Sweden - which holds the
rotating EU presidency - are traveling to Zimbabwe following an
EU-South Africa summit on Friday.
The Europeans will hold talks
with Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, along with NGO representatives and others. Their visit is
the first high level mission to Zimbabwe by the EU since 2002.
It also follows meetings by Mr. Tsvangirai in Brussels in June, when he called for ties between the two sides to be restored.
would like to welcome the opportunity for Zimbabwe and the EU to
re-establish normal relations," he said. "Zimbabwe has been isolated
for the last 10 years and for whatever reason, it is our hope that we
should re-establish normal relations with the EU."
Thursday, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt rejected calls by
southern African leaders for the EU to end its sanctions against
Zimbabwe. In remarks in Johannesburg, Reinfeldt said mismanagement and
lack of respect for human rights were the cause of Zimbabwe's problems,
not EU sanctions.
The aim of the EU visit is to ensure
Zimbabwe's power sharing agreement is properly implemented. If this
happens, European officials say, the EU can then consider fully
re-engaging with Zimbabwe.