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China FM urges West to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe

West African bloc slams S. Africa over I. Coast 'warship'
Abuja (AFP) Feb 11, 2011 - West African bloc ECOWAS criticised South Africa on Friday over a decision to send a "warship" to Ivory Coast, saying it was not notified of the move during the country's post-election crisis. James Victor Gbeho, president of the ECOWAS commission, this week said South Africa had sent the ship to Ivory Coast, but Pretoria's ambassador here said it was a support vessel dispatched to the region and not meant for any military purpose. The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has threatened to use force to oust Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo if peaceful efforts to have him step down fail.

On Friday, Gbeho repeated his concerns over the South African vessel, which he previously referred to as a warship. "ECOWAS was neither notified of the introduction of the vessel nor (was) its use for peaceful purposes clarified to the regional authorities," a statement said. "As the foremost regional organisation involved in finding a solution to the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire, ECOWAS could not help but be concerned about the presence of that unique asset in its region and at this time."

South Africa's ambassador to Nigeria, Kingsley Mamabolo, has said the vessel could be used as a neutral negotiating venue or for evacuation purposes. It had been docked in Ghana, which neighbours Ivory Coast, but he said this week he was unsure of its current location. "South Africa will never, ever intervene without consulting the regional bloc, in this case ECOWAS, and... will never do anything that has not been authorised or mandated by the African Union," he said on Tuesday.

The ECOWAS statement also reiterated the bloc's position that Gbagbo's internationally recognised rival Alassane Ouattara won the November election. The bloc has demanded that Gbagbo step down. It said ECOWAS opposed a recount of votes. "The bottom line of the ECOWAS position is indeed to recognise the sovereign will of the Ivorian electorate, which should not be lightly taken away," Gbeho said in the statement.
by Staff Writers
Harare (AFP) Feb 11, 2011
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Friday urged Western countries to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe as he paid a visit to buttress ties with the southern African nation.

"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 Mugabe and his inner circle 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.

"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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China's foreign minister visits 'good brother' Zimbabwe
Harare (AFP) Feb 10, 2011
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi arrived in Zimbabwe on Thursday for a two-day visit to bolster ties with a country he described as a "good brother." "China is ready to work with Zimbabwe to further enhance political mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial cooperation and steadily elevate our friendship and cooperation," Yang said in a statement issued on his arrival. "China sets st ... read more

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