Saturday, February 12, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE) China calls for removal of sanctions

China calls for removal of sanctions
11/02/2011 00:00:00

CHINESE Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has urged Western countries to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe as he paid a visit to cement ties between the two countries.

"Let me be frank, we believe there should be lifting of sanctions by some countries," Yang told journalists after meeting President Robert Mugabe and senior government officials in Harare.

"China believes that Africa belongs to African countries and African people. African people are their own masters and all the others are just guests.

"We believe all nations should respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe after presidential elections in 2002 that Western observers charged were rigged to hand Mugabe victory.

Yang also called for strengthened relations with Zimbabwe, which he called a "good brother".

"China and Zimbabwe have traditional friendship from the days of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. Since then our relationship has moved forward," he said.

Mugabe commended China's support for Zimbabwe in the face of isolation by its former trading partners in the West over charges of human rights violations.

[Over land redistribution. The countries that have human rights issues but are not under US/UK/EU sanctions are too numerous to mention. - MrK]

"Our relations have a long historical background of cooperation which saw us before our independence being assisted by the Communist Party of China invariously to build the capacity that we used to demolish colonialism here," Mugabe said.

"We continue to interact in terms of development in other sectors. We still want that co-operation to intensify."

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also welcomed increased links with China, saying both countries would benefit from sustaining their burgeoning economic ties.

"On the economic side, China has various cooperation agreements with Zimbabwe," Tsvangirai said after meeting Yang.

"China's record in Africa is one where Africa benefits. I am here to confirm that there is definite benefit for Zimbabwe and China."

Yang and Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi signed an agreement for a 50-million-yuan ($7.6-million, 5.6-million-euro) grant for Zimbabwe, a government official who attended the closed-door meeting told reporters. Terms of the grant were not released.

Yang's visit comes weeks after Zimbabwe's investment promotion minister, Tapiwa Mashakada, announced plans by the China Development Bank to fund investments worth $10 billion in Zimbabwe's mining, agriculture and infrastructure sectors.

Zimbabwe and China have political ties dating back to before Zimbabwe's independence, when Beijing provided arms and training to guerrillas fighting British colonial rule.

China has also been pivotal in protecting Zimbabwe at the United Nations. In 2008 China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution seeking sanctions against Harare.

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