Australia and South Africa Cosy Up over Zimbabwe Solution

Cape Times (South Africa), January 27, 2010 | Go to article overview

Australia and South Africa Cosy Up over Zimbabwe Solution


BYLINE: Peter Fabricius Foreign Editor

SOUTH Africa and Australia put the finishing touches to the repair of their old rift over Zimbabwe.

They agreed yesterday to enter into a close dialogue to address the shattered country's rehabilitation and immediately to undertake two joint projects to help rebuild its tax, water and sanitation systems.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced the agreement in Pretoria after meeting his counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. It was the first official visit by an Australian foreign minister in seven years, "a period of neglect which should never be repeated", he said.

Smith is a member of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Labor Party which was elected to government in 2007, to replace the liberal-national coalition government of John Howard. Howard and former president Thabo Mbeki caused a big chill in relations between the two countries when they fell out over Zimbabwe's membership of the Commonwealth.

Rudd's government is working hard to thaw those relations and more generally to improve ties with Africa. The two foreign ministers had a long and cosy meeting yesterday during which they did a "big catch-up" of relations, Nkoana-Mashabane said. …

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