HARARE-- Zimbabwe and Germany have agreed to establish a Joint Commission which will explore ways of enhancing and deepening relations between the two countries, top officials said.

The agreement followed the historic visit to Zimbabwe by German Federal Economic Co-operation and Development Minister Gerd Muller, a first by a top official from the European economic powerhouse in more than 20 years.

Zimbabwe and Germany have enjoyed cordial relations over the years but these have been restrained by sanctions imposed on Harare by the European Union (EU) in retaliation for land reform carried out in 2000.

The visit by Muller, the first by a senior foreign government official soon after the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Sunday, signalled a big step in efforts to restore relations to the golden years of friendship.

Muller told journalists after a meeting with Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa here Wednesday that Germany was keen on re-establishing closer relations with Zimbabwe. We have suggested and have agreed on launching a Joint Commission in which we want to discuss about what steps to take to promote economic development and take your country forward, he said.

Chinamasa described the visit as very significant in building bridges between Zimbabwe and Germany, saying Harare was keen on getting financial assistance from Germany like it used to previously. Germany used to be the major source of our lines of credit until the sanctions were imposed, he said.

Chinamasa said establishment of the Joint Commission, which would meet at scheduled intervals, would assist in deepening co-operation. The sooner it (the Joint Commission) meets, the happier Zimbabwe will be, Chinamasa said.

While Germany was keen on supporting agriculture and investment among other activitiess, Zimbabwe was also interested in joint programmes targeting vocational training for young people to produce entrepreneurs and job creators.

Meanwhile, Muller congratulated Zimbabwe on successfully holding its general election last month, resulting in the re-election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. He praised the Zimbabwean Head of State for his determination to reform the political environment, his call for peace and for embracing the opposition.

Peace and stability were not only key for Zimbabwe to develop, but for the rest of the region, Muller said.