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[Published: Wednesday March 11 2009]

Australia pledges aid to Zimbabwe

Canberra, 11 March-(ANA)-Australia says it will provide funding to Zimbabwe, the first Western country to announce aid to the government since the start of power-sharing last month.

Canberra is providing $6.4m (A$10m; £4.7m) in direct aid to restore basic water, sanitation and health services.

But Australia was "under no illusions about the fragility of the political situation," Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in a statement.

Australia currently channels humanitarian help through aid agencies.

Under Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai became prime minister of a new unity government in February.

President Robert Mugabe remains in office.

Analysts say the new government will be heavily dependent on Western donors and investors to rescue Zimbabwe's crippled economy.

The US and UK governments have said they will only consider easing sanctions against Zimbabwe when they see evidence of genuine power-sharing between the rival parties.(ANA)

FA/ANA/11 March 2009---


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