Belgium, DR Congo to reopen consulates after rift

3rd February 2009, Comments 0 comments

In a latest move to resume relations, Congo and Belgium have agreed to reopen Belgian consulates in the country.

BRUSSELS – The Democratic Republic of Congo and Belgium have agreed in principle on reopening Belgian consulates in the country, the latest step in normalising relations, Belgium's foreign ministry said Monday.

Relations between Belgium and its former colony were suspended last April after Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht upset the Kinshasa government with remarks about corruption in the former Zaire.

Kinshasa responded by recalling its ambassador from Brussels and closing its consulate in the northern city of Antwerp.

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.

In January, Belgium and DR Congo announced that ties were being normalised, with the innovation of a "permanent, frank, open and constructive dialogue respecting the democratic and legitimate institutions of the two states."

As a display of the new rapprochement, the Belgian foreign minister met his Congolese counterpart Alexis Thambwe Mwamba in Addis Adaba on Saturday, on the margins of an African Union summit.

No date has yet been set for reopening the consulates and there was no word on when Kinshasa would reopen its Antwerp consulate.

[AFP / Expatica]

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