Tsvangirai Leaves for US, EU Tour

HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai left Zimbabwe on Saturday for visits to the United States and Europe to seek aid for Zimbabwe's power-sharing government and mend fences with former allies.\r\n

"It’s quite a lengthy trip. In the United States, I am meeting President (Barack) Obama and in Europe all heads of state or government, whatever the case may be," Tsvangirai told reporters at Harare’s main airport.

Tsvangirai is, however, unlikely to call for the lifting of targeted sanctions imposed on Mugabe’s inner circle amid concerns that hardliners are still working hard to sabotage the inclusive government.

Tsvangirai, who was accompanied by Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Elton Mangoma, Tourism Minister, Walter Mzembi and Regional Integration and International Cooperation Minister, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga left shortly after midday.

His said his mission was to convince world leaders that Zimbabwe was now ready to be reintegrated into the international community after years of isolation and to seek funds for the country’s economic recovery.

“The real strategy of the trip is to fulfill the programme adopted by the government to re-engage the international community after years of isolation,” he told journalists at a brief press conference at the Harare International Airport.

“I hope we will be able to put across to the rest of the world to give this inclusive government the benefit of the doubt.”

"This country has been in isolation for the last 10 years and it’s our wish that we begin the process of re-engagement so that we are part of the family of nations."

Zimbabwe, once a dynamic regional economy crushed by world-record hyperinflation and political instability, needed transitional assistance in a number of areas for recovery, Tsvangirai said.

"I hope we will be able to put our case across and for the world to give the inclusive government the benefit of doubt," he said.

Tsvangirai will discuss the unity government’s progress and challenges over the full implementation of the power-sharing deal with President Robert Mugabe, his party said in a statement.

Also on the agenda will be formal re-engagement with the European Union.

The European Union and the United States maintain a travel ban and asset freeze on Mugabe and his inner circle in protest at controversial elections and alleged human rights abuses by his government.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a unity government in February that is tasked with steering Zimbabwe back to stability after disputed elections last year plunged the country into crisis. (AFP)