BRUSSLES, Belgium, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- British and Belgian officials have reached an agreement that will re-open the European market to diamonds from Zimbabwe, sources told the EU Observer.
The Observer said Saturday the deal on diamonds from Zimbabwe's Marange region was struck late this week during telephone discussions between British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders.
The agreement lifts the ban on Marange diamonds but warns Zimbabwe it will be reinstated if President Robert Mugabe rigs the presidential election expected to be held in July.
Mugabe's soldiers have been accused by human rights organizations of using forced labor to mine for diamonds in the Marange and funneling the revenues to Mugabe's political party.
The Observer said Mugabe himself and 10 companies would remain blacklisted from the European diamond trade but the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp., which oversees mining in Marange, will be removed from the roster.
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