WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department asked the government of Zimbabwe Thursday to discourage violence in the election campaign that has already claimed more than 30 lives.

The department was still trying to get a delegation of election observers accredited despite the Zimbabwe government's insistence on limiting the number of foreigners allowed, said State Department spokesman Philip T. Reeker.

``We really believe it's very important to the democratic process that all Zimbabweans feel safe when they exercise their democratic rights this weekend,'' Reeker said of the violence-plagued campaign.

He said the government and President Robert Mugabe ``have special obligations, as the leaders of the country, to ensure that they contribute to a secure and transparent atmosphere'' for this weekend's parliamentary vote.

``So we're calling upon them to fulfill those responsibilities; actively discourage violence, intimidation or other efforts to disrupt the elections,'' Reeker said.

At least 31 people, mostly opposition supporters, have died in political violence since February, when ruling party militants and war veterans began illegally occupying more than 1,400 white-owned farms.

Without giving details, Reeker also said he had noted ``some strong rhetoric recently from Zimbabwe which seemed to encourage violence'' and said the United States deplored such rhetoric ``no matter which party is responsible.''

``We strongly urge the leaders of all the parties in Zimbabwe to refrain from violent rhetoric,'' he said.

Reeker also said the United States still hoped the government would accredit a delegation from the U.S. Embassy in Harare, the capital, and others to serve as observers in the vote Saturday and Sunday.

The government has approved a few hundred international observers but banned others, including diplomats already serving in Zimbabwe.

``We don't recall any recent elections in which a government has taken this position and we are very disappointed that the government of Zimbabwe has decided to take this position which will undermine the credibility of their election,'' Reeker said.