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Wednesday, 20 April 2016 09:58

Zimbabwe: Russia, U.S. Congratulate Zim On 36th Anniversary

By Elita Chikwati

HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 20, 2016 (The Herald) -- Russia and the United States have sent congratulatory messages to Zimbabwe on attaining 36 years of independence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and US president Barack Obama yesterday joined Zimbabwe in celebrating its independence.

In his congratulatory letter yesterday, President Putin said he was confident relations between his country and Zimbabwe would continue.

He said the relationship met the interests of the people of both countries and was in line with promoting stability and security on the African continent.

President Putin wished President Mugabe good health and success and prosperity to the people of Zimbabwe.

"Russia and Zimbabwe have a long history of friendship and cooperation. During the World War II, when Soviet Union struggled against Fascism and Nazism, military units from Africa also took part in that struggle. Thus the victory was our shared victory," said President Putin.

"When the Zimbabwean people fought against British imperialism and the apartheid system in South Africa, they received support from the Soviet Union -- and it made a big contribution to helping Zimbabwe achieve its liberation," he said.

President Putin said although the Soviet Union had broken up, Russia still stood firm against pressure from the United States and Europe.

In May 2015, President Putin invited President Mugabe to Moscow to attend celebrations the 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War.

During the meeting President Putin said Russia was ready to 'thwart' any Western hostility against Zimbabwe.

In 2008, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution sponsored by Britain and the United States seeking to impose punitive sanctions on Zimbabwe.

"Currently our countries are both fighting sanctions and for this reason, we must work together.

"The history teaches us that victory can be achieved only through united struggle for the right cause," said President Putin.

Russian investors are financing a $4 billion platinum mine in the Great Dyke and will carry out exploration for other minerals, with the possibility of raising their investment.

The investors, who will channel funds through a new company, Great Dyke Investments, a joint venture with the Zimbabwe Government, say they are on course to meet timelines set out in a "roadmap" agreed in September last year, during a high-profile visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Under that roadmap, the mine in Darwendale will be developed in three phases, with the first phase running from 2014 to 2017 entailing exploration, infrastructure development and commissioning of mining facilities.

The second phase, from 2018 to 2021, will see the establishment of a new mine and expansion of concentration capacity to produce 530 000 ounces of platinum per year.

The third and full development phase will run from 2022 to 2024 and will see the expansion of platinum production to 800 000 ounces per year.

US president Mr Obama, in his congratulatory message to Zimbabwe, said:

"The American people join me in sending congratulations to the people of Zimbabwe as you celebrate the 36th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence on April 18.

"The United States will continue to support Zimbabwean efforts to strengthen institutions, expand economic opportunities, and promote a democratic society and government that serves the needs of all Zimbabweans." (END)



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