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EU Imposes Visa Bans on More Zimbabwean Notables - 2002-07-22

European Union foreign ministers have imposed a visa ban on 52 additional members of Zimbabwe's power elite, including President Robert Mugabe's wife. The moves against Zimbabwe came during a meeting in Brussels that also saw the ministers approve a delay in applying sanctions against the United States for its imposition of tariffs on foreign steel.

Last February, just before President Mugabe won re-election in Zimbabwe amid widespread allegations of fraud and government-sponsored violence, the EU put him and 19 of his closest associates on a blacklist. The EU measures freeze any assets they may hold in EU countries and bar them from entry into the bloc.

On Monday, at Britain's urging, that blacklist was extended to another 52 associates of the Zimbabwean president. Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, says the widening of the list shows the EU is concerned about what he says is the deteriorating economic and human rights situation in the African country.

The new names include top members of Mr. Mugabe's political party as well as deputy cabinet ministers.

The foreign ministers approved a recommendation by the European Commission to delay retaliatory action against the United States over heavy U.S. duties on steel. But they said they reserved the right to apply sanctions by the end of September if they feel Washington does not grant EU steelmakers enough exemptions.

The EU has expressed satisfaction over a U.S.-brokered deal endorsed Monday by Spain and Morocco that ended a dispute between the two countries over a tiny uninhabited island off the Moroccan coast. Under the agreement, Spain withdrew its forces from the island Saturday, three days after they had evicted a small Moroccan detachment that occupied the rocky outcrop the week before.

The ministers also expressed their concern about what an EU statement called "local obstruction of population return" in the former Yugoslavia. They acknowledged that nearly 1.5 million refugees have returned to their homes since the end of the Balkan wars but said much more needs to be done.

They especially want more encouragement given to ethnic Serbs to return to their homes in Kosovo, which is now being run by the United Nations. The EU says its ties to the former Yugoslav republics will depend on how fast they reintegrate refugees and undertake needed legal and administrative reforms.