Ambassador Laing and President Mugabe discussed United Kingdom and Zimbabwe’s bilateral relations going forward among other issues.
Ambassador Laing said:
“I had a constructive discussion with His Excellency President Robert Mugabe, where we agreed that we should look forward and try to move our relationship onto a more positive trajectory.
The UK remains committed to supporting the people of Zimbabwe achieve a more prosperous and democratic future, and believes it’s essential we’re able to have a mature dialogue to address issues of mutual interest and concern.
The UK is already undertaking important confidence building measures and if reciprocated on the Zimbabwe side, we hope we can continue to build our relationship. For example, we are strengthening business links and to show our commitment to this, the UK is sending a Trade Mission – our first in many years later this month to understand how UK skills and expertise in various sectors can support Zimbabwe’s future developmental and economic goals.”
Also on the economic front, Ambassador Laing welcomed the ZimAsset blue print, saying:
“UK and other international investors see opportunities in Zimbabwe but need reassurance that the rule of law prevails and that the environment is predictable. If there is progress on this, and the government is able to articulate this to investors, it will encourage more investment into Zimbabwe.”
Other important first steps that the UK has taken include: trebling the number of Chevening Scholarships to be awarded to Zimbabweans in the next academic year, fostering cultural and education links through the British Council, and the continuation of UK’s developmental support to Zimbabwe valued at $117 million being channelled through the Department for International Development (DFID) to reach millions of Zimbabweans, particularly women and children.
Ambassador Laing told President Mugabe that working in Zimbabwe was her dream job and looked forward to working and travelling widely to see the real Zimbabwe and meet people from all over the country.