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WDC Initiates Informal Kimberley Process Talks on Zimbabwe

Mar 13, 2011 6:11 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... The World Diamond Council (WDC) has initiated informal discussions to bring Zimbabwe back to negotiations with the Kimberley Process regarding diamonds mined at the country’s Marange fields.

WDC president Eli Izhakoff told a meeting of Israeli diamantaires and foreign diplomats visiting the diamond exchange Thursday that an informal meeting was held between representatives of the WDC, Russia, South Africa, the European Union (EU) and the U.S. “to bring Zimbabwe back to the table and reach an agreement.”

Izhakoff stressed to Rapaport News that the meeting had the blessing of Kimberley Process chairman Matheiu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who would subsequently endeavor to bring the parties together.

“We were very close to an agreement,” he explained. “There are difficult challenges ahead but we are working on them and trying to trigger something so that we can move forward.”

Negotiations between Zimbabwe and the Kimberley Process broke down in January after Israel, in its capacity as 2010 chair, initiated a final effort to bring all Kimberley Process members into written consensus regarding the ‘Jerusalem agreement’ proposal. Following an initial announcement by Israel’s chairmain Boaz Hirsch stating that consensus had been reached; Yamba subsequently reported that consensus had in fact not been achieved.

In addition, Zimbabwe has blocked the vice chair appointment of the U.S.  which would give the country chairmanship in 2012. Izhakoff said it was regrettable that the election has not taken place and that politics interfered in the process. “The two issues really should not be linked,” he said. “But, Zimbabwe now feels that it is in control at the moment because of the vice-chair issue.”

As a result, Izhakoff added that Zimbabwe appears content to work outside the Kimberley Process framework. The country reportedly conducted sales of Marange goods in January and February.

He stressed, however, that the WDC would rather have Zimbabwe working within the Kimberley Process framework. That would require the parties reaching an agreement, appointing a new monitor to replace Abbey Chikane, who resigned from the position in January, and reinstating the civil society focal point in Marange, Izhakoff explained.

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