King of Belgians to visit Congo as strained ties ease
The king of the Belgians, Albert II, will attend 50th anniversary celebrations of former colony Democratic Republic of Congo's independence, the Belgian government said Wednesday in the strongest sign yet of strained relations easing.
Since the mineral-rich, giant central African state's independence in 1960, ties have been decidedly mixed, with relations suspended last April following remarks about corruption in the former Zaire by then Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht, now European Union trade commissioner.
In response, Kinshasa recalled its ambassador from Brussels and closed its consulate in the northern city of Antwerp, while Belgium was told to close its consulates in Lumumbashi in the south and Bukavu in the east.
The Belgian ambassador left the country altogether in December.
The DR Congo and Belgium agreed in principle to reopen Belgian consulates in the country in February.