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A HIGH-POWERED delegation from the French Ministry of Foreign affairs will on June 5 visit Harare to kick-start political dialogue to re-engage the government formally on bilateral issues after over a decade of strained diplomatic relations, the French ambassador has said.

French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahouse confirmed on Tuesday that the “political visit”, which is the first after more than 10 years, was geared towards discussing all pending issues to normalise bilateral relations between the two countries.

“The meeting is intended to restart the political dialogue between France and Zimbabwe.We want to normalise our political relations with Zimbabwe,” he said.

“This political dialogue is a step ahead towards that direction. This is a very auspicious time for re-engagement,” Delahouse said.

Delahouse said France would not hesitate to ask difficult questions related to human rights, especially after the abduction of journalist-cum-civic activist Itai Dzamara who was kidnapped in March this year and is yet to be found.

He said re-engagement efforts by the government of Zimbabwe, which in recent years have been showing signs of progress, have been dampened by Dzamara’s disappearance.

“One issue which is a still a cause of concern is the disappearance of Itai Dzamara. This is a very important issue. I hope the Government of Zimbabwe is doing its best to bring the abductors to justice.”

According to Delahouse, after the French officials’ visit the next step would be a visit by members of the Zimbabwe government to Paris for further engagement.

Delahousee said discussions on how Zimbabwe should clear its debt to the Paris Club would only be entertained after the country has first dealt with arrears to multilateral institutions.

Source : Zimbabwe Independent

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