New US envoy pledges support

HARARE - The incoming United States envoy to Zimbabwe has told President Robert Mugabe the US is committed to supporting the southern African country become a prosperous and democratic state.

David Bruce Wharton, a career diplomat who headed the US Public Affairs department in Harare a decade ago, presented his credentials to Mugabe at State House together with diplomats from Belgium, Finland, Switzerland, Swaziland and Mozambique.

“I pledged to President Mugabe our continued support to the people of Zimbabwe and their efforts to build a more just, prosperous and healthy society,” Wharton said after meeting Mugabe.

“The government of the United States and the government of Zimbabwe share this desire for a better future for the people of this great nation.

“When we differ on the best means of achieving those goals, I will seek to engage in a dialogue that is respectful and that seeks to uphold the universal values and rights that Zimbabweans fought so hard to gain 32 years ago,” said Wharton.

Wharton, whose posting to Harare was approved by the US Senate last month, replaces war veteran diplomat Charles Ray, whose three-year tour of duty ended in July.

“I am also personally interested in supporting women’s empowerment, education, conservation, freedom of expression, and the rights of all people.

I will begin my term here by listening and learning about the goals of the Zimbabwean people, and how the US can be a good partner,” he said.

Since 2000, America has engaged Zimbabwe in a bitter diplomatic row, characterised by threats, sanctions and verbal exchanges over a deteriorating human rights situation and rising repression.

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