Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has urged Western countries to end sanctions that have ravaged his country's economy since the beginning of the 21st century, a report said on Friday.
According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Mugabe, 92, told delegates at a high level debate on achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations that the sanctions had had a huge impact on his government and Zimbabweans.
Mugabe was in New York to attend a two high level engagements on climate change mitigation and the Sustainable Development Goals at the UN headquarters.
The nonagenarian slammed the West's "illegal" sanctions, which, according to reports, had cost Zimbabwe over $42bn in revenue. This, he said, had made it difficult for the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Mugabe added that, in order for his country to achieve the SDGs set by United Nations in its agenda 2030 blue-print, the West had to extend a hand of "friendship and co-operation, rather than that of destruction".
The European Union and the United States imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2000, after they accused Mugabe of trampling on human rights, rigging elections and repression of press freedom - accusations that the veteran leader denied.
The sanctions have led to devastating economic challenges, with the country reportedly now sitting with about 85% unemployment.
According to a previous News 24 report, Mugabe recently told a visiting US delegation in Harare that Zimbabwe and the United States had enjoyed cordial relations in the past until former president George Bush sided with Britain's then prime minister Tony Blair who rejected the country's land reform programme in 2000.