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Minister cuts nine from long list of embassies

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - Foreign Affairs Minister Uri Rosenthal plans to close nine Dutch embassies as part of an effort to modernize embassy services and re-focus the priorities for Dutch foreign policy. Dutch economic interests will now take centre stage abroad, while development aid is being reduced. Embassies will be closed in four African countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea and Zambia) and five in South and Central America (Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Uruguay). Three of these countries will no longer receive direct development aid from the Dutch government, and therefore no longer need a Dutch embassy. In the other countries, the cost of maintaining an embassy is seen as excessive when compared to the level of Dutch interests there. Two new diplomatic missions will be opened in countries where Dutch economic interest is growing: one in Panama City, and one in the western Chinese city of Chengdu. In Tanzania, the embassy will be downgraded to an economic mission. Foreign Affairs may also use traveling ambassadors in the future. Over the past years, it reduced the number of Consulates General posts in the U.S. and Canada. The Netherlands will continue to have a very extensive embassy presence abroad, in keeping with its economic size.