Obama presses South Africa on Zimbabwe

United States President Barack Obama spoke by phone with President Kgalema Motlanthe and said Pretoria had an important role to play in helping resolve Zimbabwe’s political crisis, the White House said on Wednesday.

“President Obama emphasised the importance of South Africa’s leadership role as a strong and vibrant democracy in Africa. The two leaders discussed their shared concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe,” the White House said in a statement.

“The president noted that South Africa holds a key role in helping to find a resolution to the political crisis in Zimbabwe,” the statement said.

Zimbabwe’s economy is in ruins with runaway inflation. A cholera epidemic has killed more than 3 000 people.

Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, have been deadlocked in talks to form a power-sharing government.

The State Department said on Monday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was concerned by Mugabe’s refusal to reach a deal and wanted South Africa, which has the most regional economic and diplomatic clout, to put more pressure on him.—Reuters

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