STATEMENT: U.S. Ambassador David Bruce Wharton meets President Robert Mugabe

Harare, November 15, 2012:  My wife Julie and I are truly delighted to return to Zimbabwe to continue the important work of building strong and respectful relations between our two great countries.

President Mugabe and I had a good discussion of where our relationship has been over the last few years, and how we would like it to develop in the coming years.  I delivered President Obama’s greeting to President Mugabe and expressed the U.S. government’s sincere desire to find common ground to enhance the bilateral relationship.

My Embassy is active in supporting Zimbabwe’s health, agriculture, business, cultural, and civil society sectors.  We provide ongoing support to the Zimbabwean Parliament and constitution-making process; and we have invested more than one billion dollars in health and humanitarian assistance in the last 10 years.  The U.S. also promotes business linkages, encouraging American investors to look closely at Zimbabwe’s educated labor force and long-term growth potential.

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.  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.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech in Cape Town in August of this year in which she stated the United States will meet “action for action” in our relations with Zimbabwe.  We support the democratic reform process underway since the start of the Global Political Agreement and, along with SADC and other friends of Zimbabwe, we will stand by the people as this process reaches its conclusion.  U.S. policy toward Zimbabwe is not static, and will respond positively to Zimbabwe’s progress on the roadmap to constitutional reform and elections.

In addition to my government’s primary policy interests of supporting strong democratic institutions, sustainable economic growth, regional security, and expanding opportunities for people and communities, 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 U.S. can be a good partner.  As I learn, I will begin to add my own ideas in support of what is clearly best for both our nations:  a strong, prosperous, just and healthy Zimbabwe.