The United States of America has asked Zimbabwe neighbouring Mozambique address an Islamist insurgency that is destabilising Cabo Delgado, a region rich in natural gas.
Anonymous sources privy to the development told Bloomberg that the request came in a phone call between U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy and Zimbabwe Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo last week.
Minister Moyo is said to have responded asking the U.S. to first drop targeted sanctions against Zimbabwean officials.
The former army boss told Nagy that President Emmerson Mnangagwa shares the U.S.’s concerns about the militants and that the two nations share strategic interests elsewhere, but sanctions remain an obstacle. A department spokesperson said:
The assistant secretary and the Zimbabwean foreign minister discussed how implementing promised economic and political reforms will restore Zimbabwe’s international reputation, rebuild its economy, and give voice to all Zimbabweans. They did not discuss alleviating sanctions in response to counter-terror assistance.
The Herald, a state-run publication quoted Moyo as telling Nagy that, “this is the time for the U.S. and Zimbabwe to start looking at the bigger strategic issues” so that the two countries can normalize relations.
The U.S. recently expressed commitment to investing nearly $60 billion in natural gas facilities which are planned by companies including Total SE and Exxon Mobil Corp.
Meanwhile, the Mozambican port of Beira is key for landlocked Zimbabwe’s imports.