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Zimbabwe-US-Sanctions 1stLd-Writethru 07-25

U.S. strengthening sanctions against Zimbabweans blamed for political violence

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By MICHELLE FAUL

Associated Press Writer

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) — The United States is in the process of strengthening sanctions against individual Zimbabweans blamed for deadly electoral violence, the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe said Friday.

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Spokesman Mark Weinberg said that "proposed new sanctions are under review by the White House and the State Department" targeting "individuals we hold responsible for subverting the will of the people of Zimbabwe, people associated with the regime and those responsible for the recent violence and political problems."

The sanctions would bar the individuals from traveling to the United States and freeze any assets they had there, he told AP.

The European Union on Tuesday broadened similar sanctions against Zimbabweans, adding 37 new individuals and companies to the existing list of 131.

The U.S. review comes two weeks after China and Russia vetoed a U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution that proposed worldwide sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and 13 of his officials.

A U.S. embassy statement said President George W. Bush wants to "send a strong message that the United States will not allow individuals closely associated with the Mugabe regime the freedom to operate in our financial markets."

The sanctions would add to the pressure on Mugabe. His ruling party and the opposition this week began power-sharing talks to try to resolve the country’s economic and political crisis.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he won March presidential elections. But Tsvangirai did not win enough for an outright victory and pulled out of a June runoff because of state-sponsored violence that has killed more than 150 opposition supporters, injured thousands and left tens of thousands homeless.

Mugabe went ahead with a one-man presidential runoff widely dismissed by the international community as a sham.

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