Mugabe Seeks New Links With West
President Robert Mugabe says Zimbabwe is ready for new, more cordial relations with Western nations that have been fierce critics of his rule. Zimbabwe was ready for "fresh, friendly and co-operative relations with all those countries that have been hostile to us in the past," he said.
But he added that the lifting of Western-imposed sanctions was essential for this to become a reality. Mr Mugabe was speaking at the opening of Zimbabwe's parliament. His comments come less than two weeks after he said the West was trying to undermine the country's power-sharing government.
The sanctions prevent Mr Mugabe and his closest allies from travelling and accessing their assets abroad. And donors are wary of releasing aid money to the government, fearing it could be misused by Mr Mugabe or his allies.
Mr Mugabe claims the measures have undermined Zimbabwe's economy, which has suffered declining output and massive price inflation. Last month, the European Union sent a high-level delegation to Zimbabwe to meet Mr Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader who took office in February under a power-sharing deal.
"Our re-engagement with the EU bloc is gathering momentum," Mr Mugabe told parliament on Tuesday. "However, as our inclusive government re-engages the Western countries, we expect those countries that have imposed illegal sanctions, which have hurt and continue to hurt our economy and the generality of our people, to remove them."