23 Jul 2012

PM says NZ open to reviewing Zimbabwe sanctions

10:40 pm on 23 July 2012

Prime Minister John Key says the Government is open to reviewing the travel and financial sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Mr Key says the sanctions will be discussed during a visit of Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday.

In 2002 New Zealand imposed bilateral sanctions on Zimbabwe in protest against the human rights abuses of President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Mr Key says he will find out from Mr Tsvangirai whether the sanctions are still applicable and working.

He says Mr Tsvangirai has been at the forefront of efforts to open up democracy in Zimbabwe.

In 2008, his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, entered into a power-sharing deal with Mr Mugabe's party ZANU-PF.

Mr Tsvangirai is the first member of the Zimbabwean Government to make a formal visit to New Zealand for more than a decade.

EU lifts sanctions, with proviso

Meanwhile, the European Union has agreed to suspend targeted sanctions against more than 100 individuals from Zimbabwe, once the country has held a credible vote on a new constitution.

The individuals have been subject to an EU asset freeze and travel ban for a decade.

After a meeting in Brussels, EU foreign ministers welcomed what they described as constructive dialogue and political progress in Zimbabwe.

But sanctions against President Mugabe will remain.

Allies of Mr Mugabe are demanding an unconditional lifting of the sanctions.