Netherlands to close nine embassies

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The Dutch government has decided to close seven of its embassies, according to Dutch daily . The embassies affected are mainly in Africa and South and Central America. The closures are a result of budget cuts and a focus shift towards economic relations.

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal says he wants to see a smaller and more flexible diplomatic service. Also, cuts to development aid in these countries will mean less need for local diplomatic service. Around 300 jobs will be lost - close to 10 percent of the diplomatic service. 

In Africa, the Dutch embassies in Cameroon, Zambia, Burkina Faso and Eritrea will close. The embassy in Tanzania will be downgraded to an economic post. In Latin America The Hague will shut its embassies in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Uruguay.

New missions But the government will also create diplomatic missions. In China, a consulate will be set up in Chengdu, the capital of the western province of Sichuan. Because of the commercial importance of the Panama Canal, a new embassy will be opened in Panama.

Mr Rosenthal announced changes in the diplomatic service at the end of last year. The details of the government plans will be decided in a cabinet meeting today.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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