E.U., Zimbabwe to meet on sanctions

South African president Jacob Zuma (left) and the European Union's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana (right), shake hands ahead of the opening session of the E.U.-S.A. summit in Kleinmond, South Africa -- September 11, 2009

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke:O fficials from the European Union will visit Zimbabwe this weekend. It's the first visit of its kind since 2002 when Zimbabwe's economy was in a tailspin. The E.U. imposed sanctions targeting President Robert Mugabe and his allies. This visit by the European delegation is seen as a new effort to normalize ties between the two economies. Reporter Gretchen Wilson has more from Johannesburg.


Gretchen Wilson: The high-level European delegation will meet with President Robert Mugabe and his formal rival, now Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as other ministers in Zimbabwe's new coalition government.

Zimbabwe's economy plummeted in the last decade under Mugabe's rule. There were also countless reports of human rights abuses by government officials. In response, the E.U. and the U.S. imposed travel and business restrictions on Mugabe and his close aides.

Now that there's a power-sharing government, African leaders want the West to lift all sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle. They say it will help spark economic development.

The E.U. delegation says that it will discuss normalizing ties with Zimbabwe. But the E.U. stresses that the visit doesn't necessarily mean it will lift sanctions. Officials say they first want to see progress in human rights reforms, respect for the rule of law, and more transparency in financial institutions.

In Johannesburg, I'm Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

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