Zimbabwe's leader thanks China's Xi, pledges to boost ties

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Zimbabwe's leader thanks China's Xi, pledges to boost ties
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, second from right, talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, April 3, 2018. (Parker Song, Pool Photo via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for Beijing’s political support and pledged to strengthen ties with China on his first visit since his dramatic rise to power last year.

Mnangagwa and Xi met Tuesday afternoon at the Great Hall of the People. Xi said Mnangagwa was “an old friend of China” and thanked him for developing ties.

The trip is Mnangagwa’s first since longtime leader Robert Mugabe resigned in November under pressure from the military. Mugabe’s government maintained warm relations with Beijing but was accused of widespread corruption.

Some of that ill-gotten wealth was reported to have gone through China, which became increasingly enmeshed with Zimbabwe’s government and economy as Western nations withdrew over human rights concerns and mismanagement of the once-prosperous country.