HARARE– The third high-profile British government envoy within the past three months has arrived in Zimbabwe for talks with the new political leadership here as the two countries continue taking strides towards restoration of normal relations.

Ties between Harare and London have been strained over the past two decades after Britain sided with her kith and kin in Zimbabwe whose prime agricultural land the government expropriated for redistribution to the previously marginalized majority blacks.

The dispute resulted in Britain mobilizing other Western countries and the United States to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe as punishment for reclaiming land which the settlers had taken away from the indigenous people when they first arrived on the continent.

The embargo fueled economic meltdown in the southern African country as Harare suffered from the isolation which saw the country failing to attract foreign direct investment as well as losing support from international

financial institutions.

Zimbabwe had gained independence from Britain in 1980 following a protracted war of of liberation.

Following a dramatic change in the administration in Harare last November which saw former president Robert Mugabe resigning after leading the country for 37 years from 1980 and President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over, Britain has been keen to thaw relations, sending its first envoy to attend the inauguration of the new President.

The new administration in harare has also expressed its willingness to mend bridges with all former enemies of the country.

British Minister for Africa Harriet Baldwin flew into Harare Thursday and held talks which lasted nearly an hour with Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, retired Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo.

Baldwin, who is expected to meet President Mnangagwa on Friday, told the media after the closed-door meeting that the discussions tackled wide ranging issues around strengthening ties between the two countries.

She chose to make Zimbabwe her first African destination, since her appointment early this year. It’s a great pleasure for me to be having my first visit as the new Minister for Africa, to Zimbabwe. We had wide-ranging discussions. We touched on a number of different areas, she said. We are looking forward to work closely with the people of Zimbabwe at this historic time.

Baldwin said the talks also tackled the contentious issue of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe almost two decades ago and the way forward. She said Zimbabwe had the final say on whether it would re-join the Commonwealth, a grouping of former British colonies.

Zimbabwe pulled out of the Commonwealth 16 years ago over political differences with Britain.

Besides Baldwin, Roy Stewart, the former Minister for Africa and Sir Simon Gerard McDonald, the permanent under secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, have also visited the country, in a show of seriousness for re-engagement by the British government.