Zimbabwe on Monday summoned the US Ambassador to Harare to protest a Washington official's description of the southern African country as an adversary amid raging anti-racism protests.
This comes after US national security advisor Robert O'Brien classified Zimbabwe, China and Russia as some of America's adversaries. He claimed that the three countries were trying to take advantage of the recent unrest sparked by the murder of African American George Floyd by a white policeman.
Zimbabwe's Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo said he had summoned US Ambassador Brian Nichols to express his government's displeasure over Mr O'Brien's statements.
"I have today informed the US ambassador to Zimbabwe that Mr O'Brien's allegations are false, without any factual foundation whatsoever and that they are deeply damaging to a relationship already complicated by years of prescriptive mega diplomacy and primitive economic sanctions," Dr Moyo said in a statement.
"Zimbabwe is not and has never been an adversary of the United States of America."
The Minister said the government was reflecting "on the lack of balance and even the double standards so evident in US policy towards Zimbabwe."
On the other hand, Ambassador Nichols said he told Dr Moyo that "Americans will continue to speak out for justice whether at home or abroad."
"I again urged Zimbabwe's government to end state-sponsored violence against peaceful protesters, civil society, labour leaders and members of the opposition in Zimbabwe and to hold accountable those responsible for human rights abuses," he said.
Western embassies, including the US mission, angered President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government a fortnight ago after they condemned the abduction and sexual abuse of three opposition female activists by suspected State security agents.
Ambassador Nichols said that unlike in Zimbabwe where citizens waited for years for justice for government critics that disappeared after abductions by State agents, the police officer who killed Mr Floyd had been arrested swiftly.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the US have been frosty since 2002 when Washington slapped sanctions on former leader Robert Mugabe's government for alleged human rights violations and electoral fraud.
The ouster of the late Mugabe in a military coup in 2017, however, has not led to an improvement in relations as the US accuses President Mnangagwa's government of dragging its feet on reforms.