EU ministers to push for world arms moratorium on Zimbabwe

The European Union was set to call for a global moratorium on deliveries of arms to Zimbabwe at a meeting in Luxembourg Tuesday, officials said.

The foreign ministers of the bloc's 27 member states "will discuss" the question of an international moratorium at their regular monthly meeting, Britain's Minister for Europe, Jim Murphy, said.

A decision is "very likely, I think ... It's about making sure that there's an international effort to stop arms going to Zimbabwe until such time as the situation has been resolved and democracy is allowed to run its course," Murphy told journalists.

The ministers are also expected to express their concerns over reports of intimidation, human-rights abuses and violence against pro-democracy activists in the country, diplomats said.

The EU has maintained an embargo on the sale of arms to Zimbabwe since elections which it judged as undemocratic in 2002, dpa reported.

But the row surrounding the attempted shipment of 77 tons of weapons to Zimbabwe in a Chinese freighter in mid-April has lifted the issue to the top of the international agenda.

Zimbabwe held elections on March 29, but the authorities have yet to release the results, saying that there must first be a recount in several key districts.

That delay has been fiercely criticized in Europe and the United States, where many politicians say that the move is a last attempt by the regime of President Robert Mugabe to hold on to power.

"In Zimbabwe there should be the government that the people of Zimbabwe voted for, so the election results should be released and those who won the elections should be put in office as the democratically-elected government," Murphy said.

"The message from EU ministers should be clear ... that we support very strongly EU action in solidarity with the African Union to bring a conclusion to the dreadful situation in Zimbabwe, the stealing of an election and the abuse of human rights," Murphy said.

The ministers are expected to issue a joint statement later on Tuesday.

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