Netherlands to close seven embassies

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

Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal wants to see a smaller and more flexible diplomatic service. The cuts will affect 300 jobs - around 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 Central America, the Dutch embassies in Nicaragua, Uruguay and Bolivia will close.

According to the foreign ministry, cuts in development aid in these countries means there is less of a need for a diplomatic service.

There will be new diplomatic posts created. In China a consulate will be set up in Chengdu, the capital of the Western province of Sichuan. A new embassy will also be located in Panama because of the importance of the Panama Canal to trade.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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