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Obama offers Zimbabwe aid package
US president says $73m in aid will be given "directly to the people".
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2009 05:43 GMT
Mugabe, left, the Zimbabwean president, and Tsvangirai have formed a tense coalition [EPA]

Barack Obama, the US president, has offered $73 million in aid to Zimbabwe but said it would be given "directly to the people" amid concerns over human rights.

Obama made the announcement after meeting Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwean prime minister, for talks in Washington on Friday.

"Overall, in a very difficult circumstance, we've seen progress from the prime minister. We are grateful to him," Obama said.

Tsvangirai formed a coalition government with Robert Mugabe, the president, in February to end a long-running political deadlock and economic collapse.

Mugabe had been accused of stealing an election from Tsvangirai and of organising widespread political violence.

Zimbabwe...needs to re-engage the world, to be part of the family of nations and not be an isolated pariah state.

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe prime minister

Tsvangirai told Al Jazeera's Frost over the World he did not believe reports that members of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party were preparing to target their opponents.

"There is no evidence that there is a general campaign of intimidation and violence in the country," he said.

Tsvangirai is on a three-week tour seeking international aid in an attempt to pull the country out of economic chaos that has seen rocketing inflation and led to many Zimbabweans fleeing the country.

Since the coalition was formed more than $800m in credit lines has been secured to rebuild the shattered economy, and the International Monetary Fund has said it will resume technical aid to Harare.

"Zimbabweans have been isolated for the last 10 years and has been treated as a pariah state, we are now here and that Zimbabwe is changing, that it needs to re-engage the world, to be part of the family of nations and not be an isolated pariah state," Tsvangirai said.

Mugabe criticism

But Obama was critical of Mugabe, who he said had resisted change in the African country.

"President Mugabe...has not acted all the time in the best interest of the Zimbabwean people and has been resistant to the kinds of democratic changes that need to take place," Obama said.

The US president said Washington wanted to help encourage the rule of law, human rights and basic health and education services in Zimbabwe.

After a meeting between Tsvangirai and Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, on Thursday, spokesman Ian Kelly said Washington was looking for "ways to ease the suffering of the Zimbabwean people without bolstering those forces that are clinging to corruption and repression".

He said the US would consider development aid if certain benchmarks are met.

Tsvangirai says Zimbabwe, where many have been forced into crippling poverty amid an economic crisis, needs aid now.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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