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No change yet in US sanctions on Zimbabwe

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The United States is reviewing its sanctions on Zimbabwe but has made no decision yet to follow the European Union in easing an assets freeze and travel visa ban, a top official said Monday.

Washington congratulated the Harare government for holding a "peaceful and credible constitutional referendum" earlier this month, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.

It was "an important first step in the nation's development of democracy," he said of the March 16 vote called to approve a new constitution.

But the United States is still waiting to see if it can "serve as a precedent for upcoming presidential elections."

"So we're going to continue to review our sanctions, but we want to get the democratic process back on track in Zimbabwe."

The European Union on Monday lifted sanctions against 81 people and eight entities in Zimbabwe following the March referendum.

However, President Robert Mugabe and a handful of others remained on the EU blacklist, a European diplomat confirmed.

The United States began imposing targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2001, which include financial sanctions and travel bans on a list of firms and individuals, including Mugabe.

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said in August during a visit to South Africa that Washington would reward efforts by Zimbabwe's leaders to pave the way toward free elections, saying the United States is prepared to "match action for action."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130325/no-change-yet-us-sanctions-zimbabwe