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Russia eyes Zimbabwe’s diamonds and platinum

Lavrov, who is on a tour of Africa, is the first high-profile Russian official to visit Zimbabwe since veteran ruler Robert Mugabe’s resignation © AFP / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Harare, Zimbabwe, Mar 8 – Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday met with Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa and discussed possible military co-operation as well as plans to boost economic ties.

Lavrov, who is on a tour of Africa, is the first high-profile Russian official to visit Zimbabwe since veteran ruler Robert Mugabe’s resignation in November last year.

“We talked about the tasks that we have to pursue in order to develop these trade and economic ties between our countries,” Lavrov told journalists after meeting Mnangagwa at his office in the capital Harare.

“We emphasised the implementation of the joint project of exploring the Darwendale platinum deposits,” he said.

The project is one of the largest of its kind in the world and is run by a Zimbabwean-Russian joint venture.

“(We) also had a good conversation about the good prospects of cooperation in the diamond industry.”

The two governments “also talked about the prospects of military and technical cooperation,” said Lavrov, speaking through an interpreter.

Lavrov and Mnangagwa met for less than an hour and agreed a number of agricultural, industrial and trade agreements.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo said he was hopeful that his country could profit from Russia’s technological expertise.

“The visit by Mr Lavrov has escalated the level of bilateral relations between our two great nations to combine both political and economic (ties),” Moyo said.

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“We hope to increase the tourism inflow of Russians in the country,” he added.

Russia and Zimbabwe signed a $3 billion platinum mining deal in 2014.

Lavrov has already visited Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and is expected in Addis Ababa on Friday where he is due to hold talks with Ethiopian authorities and leaders of the African Union continental bloc.

He added that United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be in Addis at the same time, but that no meeting had been agreed.

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