EU delegation on landmark visit to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Saturday welcomed the first high-level European Union delegation to his country in 7 years. He said talks went well. EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Karel De Gucht (Belgian) said that the talks proceeded in a "constructive atmosphere".
The EU delegation led by Karel De Gucht, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, and the Swedish EU presidency met with President Robert Mugabe in the Zimbabwe capital Harare on Saturday. The EU delegation is also meeting with Mugabe's long-time political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai.
The EU delegation received a warm welcome from Mugabe "We welcome you with open arms. We hope our talks will be fruitful with a positive outcome." Mugabe is hoping for a lifting of the sanctions.

Landmark visit marking a thaw in relationships with the West

The visit is the first since the controversial election results of 2002 which prompted the European Union to impose sanctions against members of Mugabe's government for human rights violations.

The visit is being referred to as 'landmark' and symbolises a thaw in relationships between Zimbabwe and the west. EU officials describe the visit as an attempt to reopen political dialogue with the African country.

It is the first official EU visit since the controversial election results of 2002 which prompted the European Union to impose sanctions against members of Mugabe's government for human rights violations.

"This is a critical time for Zimbabwe and the weight of responsibility falls squarely on the country's leaders to deliver urgent political, economic and social progress for the benefit of all people of Zimbabwe," Karel De Gucht said in a statement before the visit.

EU reaffirms sanctions policy

Ahead of the visit to Zimbabwe Karel De Gucht defended the EU's decision to stick to the sanctions against Mugabe and hi inner circle.

"We are not talking about economic sanctions," he said.

Zimbabwe says it needs $10 billion in foreign reconstruction aid.  Western nations howevery are not willing to commit more aid without further political and economic reforms as part of a power-sharing deal called the Global Political Agreement (GPA)

The blame game: Mugabe sharply criticises the West

The 85-year-old Mugabe reacted promptly to the EU's announcement that sanctions would remain in place.

Speaking at a gathering of his party's youth wing in Harare on Friday, he sharply criticised the sanctions and the West.

"Who said the British and Americans should rule over others? … We have not invited these bloody whites. They want to poke their nose into our affairs," Mugabe said.