U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States and South Africa will work more closely together to push for reform in Zimbabwe and full implementation of a power sharing agreement there. The countries have also agreed to scale up their bilateral relationship.
Secretary Clinton said that South Africa is already deeply involved in trying to advance political reform in neighboring Zimbabwe.
"South Africa is deeply involved in working toward a complete fulfillment of the terms of the agreement that was reached to establish the coalition government," she said. "Obviously, South Africa, on the doorstep of Zimbabwe, has a lot of contacts with all of the different players in Zimbabwe, and the minister, and I talked about ways we can try productively to create a better outcome for the people of Zimbabwe."
Earlier this week, South African President Jacob Zuma met with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangerai and promised the Zimbabwean leader he would raise what he called Zimbabwe's weighty problems with President Robert Mugabe. These are likely to include continuing violence against Mr. Mugabe's opponents and what Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change says are gratuitous arrests of party legislators.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane said South Africa will be urging Zimbabwe to speed up implementation of the power sharing signed by Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai, and which includes provisions to prevent such incidents.
Mrs. Clinton is also seeking to reinvigorate bilateral ties with South Africa. Nkoane-Mashabane said she and Mrs. Clinton agreed to establish a mechanism to elevate the relationship.
"We have, amongst other things, agreed to elevate our bilateral relations to a higher level, a level of Madame Secretary and myself, to lead and coordinate our engagements between the two countries," she said.
Mrs. Clinton noted that President Barack Obama has made Africa a high priority for his administration and that the United States recognizes the central leadership role South Africa plays in Africa.
"One cannot think about making progress on so many fronts, from health and education to conflict resolution, without working hand in hand, closely cooperating and coordinating with South Africa," she said.
Mrs. Clinton also met briefly with elder statesman Nelson Mandela and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, and had lunch with some business leaders.