Chissano has applied his considerable diplomacy skills to build productive relations with neighboring countries and the nonaligned states. Since Frontline days, Frelimo has sought close ties with Zimbabwe. This friendship has recently been tested by illegal immigration on both sides of their common border. In the aftermath of Zimbabwe's widely criticized elections, Chissano has had the unenviable task of defending Mugabe against international condemnation. In part, his support of Mugabe stems from their membership in SADC. The two men, however, shared pre-independence liberation struggles, a history that will define Mozambique-Zimbabwe relations for years to come.
Chissano is well known for his controversial policy of negotiating with the apartheid white minority government in South Africa to end South African support for Renamo and to expand economic relations between the two countries. The first agreement, the Nkomati Accord, was negotiated between the two governments in 1983, and subsequently violated by South African officials. Relations have improved immeasurably, and South Africa has offered to buy hydroelectric power from Mozambique's Caborra Basso Dam. It has also established with Mozambique a joint Security Commission to protect the Dam from attacks and to sustain power transmissions. Illegal immigration to South Africa is still a bone of contention between the two countries, and South Africa reported having deported some 61,000 Mozambican refugees at a rate of 223 per day during the first nine months of 2001.
One of Chissano's most important diplomatic goals was to end the hostile relationship between Mozambique and the United States, a relationship attributed by the United States to Mozambique's Marxist system. In 1988, full embassies were exchanged between the two countries and a warming of relations evolved. The United States now sees Mozambique as a country with a promising future and has become one of its principal bilateral donors. In February 2002, Chissano met with President George W. Bush in the United States along with presidents Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and Festus Mogae of Botswana. In 2003 though, Chissano voiced concern over the United States' war against Iraq, specifically his concern that Mozambique's and Africa's fight against poverty would be forgotten amidst war concerns.
In early 2002, Chissano attended a summit in Paris of African leaders to launch the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), an African-led initiative to promote African development and cooperation with industrialized countries. Essentially NEPAD trades on African commitment to good governance in return for donor financial support. In Mozambique's case, donors have latched on to the country as their 'African success story' and their financial support to Mozambique in 2001 exceeded the government's request. In October 2001 the World Bank said that international donors had pledged more than US $700 million, and the IMF qualified Mozambique under the heavily indebted poor countries initiative (HIPC). In April 2002 the United States contributed US $30 million to fight malaria and HIV/AIDS, and Belgium gave about US $6.7 million in December for health care reconstruction.