Zimbabwe says in talks with West on sanctions

HARARE – Zimbabwe is talking to the United States and European Union over the repeal of sanctions, according to an economic policy document released on Thursday by the new power-sharing government.

It said political reforms demanded by Western donors were a key part of an emergency recovery plan.

The document, called the Short-term Emergency Recovery Progamme, forecast that inflation would fall to 10 percent by the end of 2009 — from over 230 million at last count — due to the use of multiple foreign currencies in the country.

The new unity government entered into by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai faces the daunting prospect of rebuilding Zimbabwe’s shattered economy after years of hyperinflation and decline.

The document said the economic recovery plan will require funding in excess of $5 billion, mostly from donors. Mugabe will officially launch the recovery plan later on Thursday.

The document said Zimbabwe has started talking to the U.S., EU, IMF and World Bank over the removal of sanctions.

"In this regard, discussions have already started with the EU, European Commission, World Bank, IMF, and the (African Development Bank) AfDB with the objective of removing the above sanctions and measures…," the document said.

The U.S. and EU have put in place targeted sanctions against certain individuals close to Mugabe and some Zimbabwean companies.   

The policy document also warned against continued invasions and takeovers of mainly white-owned farms, saying offenders could be arrested.

Thousands of white farmers have fled Zimbabwe since land seizures began in 2000, and the country’s farmers’ union said some white farmers were still being forced off land or being prosecuted for refusing to leave.